Friday, October 14, 2011

Time To Watch The Details

You’ve gone through your story and edited it some and taken out the scenes you decided were no longer needed. Now you need to sit down and go through your story with a highlighter. Read the story slowly, preferably out loud if you aren’t disturbing anyone, and don’t just read what you think you wrote. Read only what you actually wrote and make sure all your character and story points are still valid. Often my view of my character, especially details and background, changes throughout the book. Maybe I thought she had a cousin early in the book only to decide later in the writing process that her parent was an only child. Readers will notice those things and editors are paid to notice those differing details. If you wrote a story over a few months or years, you may have very different backgrounds to your characters that will confuse editors and lose you a deal on what could otherwise be a very well written story with excellent characters, at least at the end of the book. Details can make or break a story and reading through your story in a short period of time such as a week or weekend will allow you to keep all those details in your head and allow you to notice differences.
As you’re reading your story look for clichés or dialogues that go on too long. Early in the writing process it is easy to write a cliché or explain everything at once so things are on paper quickly. During the following revisions is when you need to notice those things and rewrite or remove such things.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Time To Revise Your Story

Now that you’ve written your first draft and edited it some, let’s talk about revising your story for the second or third draft.
This is where you go through your story and make sure everything is needed and in the right place. Now that you know where your characters will end up at the end of your story, you can go back and debate with yourself if that scene in the kitchen really needs to be set in the kitchen, or would it be better after the next two scenes and set on the porch. Now you can go back and remove scenes that don’t support the story or plot and figure out where you need to add more scenes to foreshadow or hint at how the story will end. Did you put scenes in the beginning of the book that no longer make sense with the ending you wound up writing instead of the one you thought you’d write? Now is the time to take those scenes out. Start first with the scenes needed, then we can edit the information in the scenes you decide to keep.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Watch The Technical Speaking In Dialogue

How often have you watched those technical shows so popular on television these days? I’m talking about medical shows like House M.D and Gray’s Anatomy or crime shows like the CSIs and Law and Order series. As you watch those types of shows, you’ll hear them say a lot of technical things, such as scientific things, but eventually they will convert the conversation to simple terms for the laymen who didn’t get degrees in what the characters did. As you write your stories, you need to be careful about how much technical garble you put in them. You should have done a lot of research to write your story accurately and you may have learned a lot of the technical phases the professionals use. Although you may understand what your characters are saying to each other, your reader may not and they may get lost in the garble. If they get too distracted from the flow of the story and upset about not understanding the conversation, they will but the story down and find another story they can understand without a textbook next to them.
A good rule of thumb in creating dialogue for your characters is to keep it simple while still being true to the character. The balance needed for that is a delicate one and it may help to have a beta reader who has no problem telling you when you confuse them with too much phraseology and need to rewrite a scene to clarify things.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cinematic Views In Writing

Something I read recently was advice to “write from different cinematic views”. I was looking for some similar articles online but all I found was references to a looked-down-upon way of writing fiction that focused on external and internal dialogue rather than description.

Not quite what I was looking for, so I went back to the website I found the tidbit on and the description was “Turn your notebook into a camera.” I like that idea because how often when you write do you see a scene in your head as you go? I often think like that as I write a conversation between characters or have a character walking down a path somewhere. I never thought about moving the camera in my head around the room though.

Let’s say you’re writing a scene about a husband and wife making dinner together and talking about the upcoming visitors for supper or the weekend. You wrote the scene looking at them in your head from the front. How different would the scene look on to your writer if you moved the camera to the left side of the room? Would the reflection of the couple in the window above the sink change the image much, or at least the effect given the reader? Would the effect change if the reader were looking in the window or through the door to the dinning room? Would the story be better by having the conversation take place or summarized by the couple’s kids waiting in the living room? These are all good things to think about when you edit your current work of fiction and viewing possible changes in your head as if it were a movie is a good way to decide if the changes really do improve your story.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Writer's Enemy

As a writer, I believe the hardest thing about writing well is doing so inside the rules of grammar. Here are some online resources to help you learn the rules of grammar and punctuation.

A Guide to Grammar and Writing

A page full of grammar downloads and PDFs

A great grammar book now online: The Elements of Style

Once you know the rules, it is much easier to write well and know how to ignore the rules to get the effect you want on your readers.