30 November, 2011

Use the "F" Word

Writers' Wednesday!!!

Look to your right and your left at the same time.  No?  Okay, without the use of mirrors, keep your eyes forward and look behind you.  Still not happening?  Hm...  Try holding onto every word, character, concept, conflict, and plot point in your mind at the same time.  (Sure, if you're writing copy for a "got milk?" print ad, you might could do that.  But, you get the point.)

Even if you are writing third-person omniscient, respect the fact that your readers/audience have the same limitations of visual space that you have.  They can only look at what you tell them to look at and where you tell them to look for it.


In visual media, they can cut between shot/reverse-shot and multiple camera set-ups.  Occasionally they try (and fail) to make the audience feel like they're in the movie through POV.  The important thing to note is that everything is still revealed in a logical one-at-a-time sequence, often limiting what is seen to the director's specifications for tone and pace.  Not to mention, seeing registers much quicker than reading. (Half-a-second is plenty of time to hook a visual and it's probably taken you four or five seconds to read this overly long parenthetical.)

You and your readers/audience will appreciate it when you write with tunnel vision.  Ask yourself what nugget you're describing right now.  Describe it well.  What's the next nugget?  How can you transition from this nugget to that nugget without getting whiplash?

And please, please, please, please make those nuggets important to the story.  No paragraphs about a lamp that turns out to be a red herring.  No sweeping purple, apricot, and gunmetal blue landscapes unless they have a pertinent B-52 approaching through them.  Because, if there isn't, I'm sending one to really make your setting interesting.  If it doesn't add to your characters, advance the plot, or heighten the conflict, cut it.

I trust you will find that concentrating on each little moment in turn and not trying to look all over the whole story at once helps your writing flow immensely.  You won't even need to write chronologically.  Take whatever section is poking through your forehead.  If you structured properly before you started writing and can trust the editing and revision process, it won't matter.

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