Things To Keep In Mind When Writing...
Here's a list I've compiled after Imaginarily looked over a story I PM'd her for critique. Hopefully this will be of help for not only me, but for everyone else.
#1- DON'T INFO DUMP!!
Seriously, don't. You've got the entire book to build your world. Keep in mind that what you reveal will be through your character and his/her personal opinions and interests. If you must discuss something, make sure it's something that's relevant for the character or for the plot at that appropriate time. If your character enters a house, don't wax lyrical about when the house was built, who owned it previous, etc. If all that is crucial to the story, give it to us sparingly to add to the air of mystery. I mean, can you imagine it like...
ROBIN: “Egads! This house once belonged to Mr. Witherford, Amos! Our culprit!”
AMOS: “Uh, dude?” <gives him the book> “Everything was spelled out in the first twenty pages. And way to go with the expository dialogue, bro.”
#2- EMOTIONAL CONNECTION!!
This is not a police report or a wikipedia page. Your characters are living the story as its being told; so their emotions have to feel real. Let them live in their actions and feelings. This is the only way you're gonna get your readers to care about your characters at all.
#3- SHOW, DON'T TELL!!
Unless it's not necessary, show the readers what's going on, don't just tell them. If your character is in pain, let the readers feel that pain, Make it suck for both the character and the reader.
#4- BE VAGUE!!
You don't always have to give a blow-by-blow account of every action your character takes. This isn't a script for a movie or a TV show. This isn't a comic strip. Sometimes you can be vague about certain things.
“Amos grabbed the cup and tapped his way out of the room” is a lot better than, “With his left hand, Amos quickly grabbed the cup and slowly tapped his way out of the room, sweeping his cane side-to-side.”
Leave room for the readers to imagine what's going on.
#5- DESCRIBE WHAT'S RELEVANT!!
By this, I mean you describe what is relevant for the scene, the character, and the plot. When I read, I don't mind brief descriptions to get a general idea of what's going on, but if there's a whole paragraph dedicated to the fact that there's a curious gouge in the wall of the character's home and there's nothing more said beyond ‘Oh, that exists’, then I'd be a bit disappointed.
#6- USE THE SENSES!!
Assuming your character isn't in a coma, chances are he/she is experiencing the world in some form or fashion. Examples:
“Amos gagged, pinched his nose with his fingers as the raw, putrid smell assaulted his sinuses.”
“Small strands of spider web caressed his cheeks, tickling them. Amos brushed and pulled it off. ”
“He took a swig of the beer, felt the sharp taste in his mouth.”
“A loud boom attracted his attention, he spun around toward the source, listening carefully for any new development.”
Yes, I know Amos is blind, but the point still stands. Even if your character is blind, deaf, blind+deaf, or can't smell (like me), he/she can still interact with the world with whatever senses he/she has.
#7- BE CONCISE!!
@Imaginarily said it best when she critiqued my work: if you can convey the same message/meaning with fewer words, do it. I am reminded of a passage in Paolini's Eldest where Paolini went on a tangent about how Eragon closed his eyes and drifted off to a realm where all things were possible. As in, the dude went to sleep.
#8- FAMILIAR THINGS!!
OK, so your story is set in a fantasy/sci-fi setting with all sorts of things that don't exist in our world. Start by showing something that's familiar within our world, or maybe even within the genre (ie, something they'd be familiar with like a spaceship battle or envoys talking with the king of a foreign land before assassins start shanking fools.) Gradually introduce the readers into your world by first showing them what's familiar, then surprise them with stuff they've never seen before.
I may be missing more, but these were the tips I wrote down for future references. Hope this helps others.
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