Friday, August 17, 2012

Who in the World is Narrating this Story?

You want your readers to get to know your characters. That’s crucial for establishing a reader-main character connection. If that connection is not there, your reader might not continue reading.
But you can’t make a laundry list of who your character is. No one wants to sit through even a paragraph of: Character A loves the color green, has an irrational fear of puppies, and not so secretly wishes her sister would clean her half of the room. Bored yet?
In my last post, I mentioned using details to show things about the characters. But how do you do that?
Think about the color green. What is your reaction to someone giving you a green shirt? If green is your absolute favorite color, you’d see it and be excited. If you loathe green like no other color, you’d note it and perhaps be annoyed. If you are completely indifferent to the color green, then you might not even think about the color.
Or with puppies. Someone who is deathly afraid of puppies will describe a great dane puppy galloping towards them entirely different from someone who adores dogs. With that detail and how you describe it, you wouldn’t necessarily even have to tell the reader that Character A is scared of dogs. If the reader sees the sharp toothed, glinty eyed beast charging and the character nearly peeing themselves, then they know that Character A is scared of dogs.
In my last post, I asked if you should describe tattered, stained carpets. How would the carpet be described by the following characters:
A young couple walking into the house they just bought.
A little kid who has lived there his entire life.
A frazzled mother whose in-laws are coming over in an hour.
A hostage.
Each of these characters would describe the same tattered, stained carpets entirely different. I’m not completely certain the kid would even notice or describe the carpets unless a. the stains were shaped like Mickey Mouse or b. In the very very recent past, they caused one of the stains.
Any other thoughts on letting the details work to show your readers your characters?
Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lessons from Angry Birds: Details

How many details do you put in your novel? Do you describe the textured walls or leave that out? What about the tattered, stained carpets?
No reader wants to spend page after page reading about the room, but then again, they also don’t want to feel like they are in a white box with nothing around the characters.
Details give the reader a sense of where the characters are. The way you describe things can show things about the characters based on what they observe and how they describe it.
But how much is too much and how much is not enough?
The answer can be found in Angry Birds. If you’ve ever played the game (or even just seen the game), you’ll notice that the birds don’t have any wings. That would seem to be a crucial detail that is missing. They’re birds after all!
But really, they have slingshots. Are the wings necessary?
And that is the answer to how much detail to add.
Put in only what you need. If something isn’t doing work for your story, then you don’t need it. Meaning, if the description isn’t showing the reader something important that they need to know about the setting or showing them insight into your character, then it isn’t doing anything for you.
In Angry Birds, the wings aren’t needed. The birds have a slingshot to fly. Nothing changes about the game because the birds don’t have wings. It isn’t important.
So remember with details, put in only what you need and make sure it is doing work for your story.
Happy writing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Where in the Heck Have I Been?

Wowzers! It has been forever since I blogged. Hmmm . . .  well, partly I’ve been busy and partly I’ve been lazy. It happens to the best of bloggers. (At least, I’m hoping it happens to the best of us. I’m not alone here, right? Right?).
So what do you do when you fall off of the blogging horse?
Silly question really. You get back on.
Oh and don’t be too hard on yourself. Think of all the other things you accomplished, whether it’s in your personal life or in your writing you’ve gotten a lot done.
For me during my blogging hiatus, I’ve managed to write a whole new book and edited Bonded two more times.
But I’m back to blogging now. What you been up to since I was gone?