Monday, 31 October 2011

I'm just not feeling it

If I give you a date on which I will post something, ignore it. I'm not trying to lie, it's just that life has a way of getting in the way (pesky life!). So I spent last week in the back-of-beyond with no internet (ah... well Great Yarmouth :P). Whining over, let's get onto topic.

...and then she died.

That got your attention didn't it? No? Well I tried. So imagine you've just read the most tear-jerking chapter you've ever seen, about the man frantically trying to save his wife (you want an example? What do I look like? A writer? ;) ) and suddenly you read those four words. Don't get me wrong, this is a terrible example and there are times in which those four words will work wonders, but most of the time? This will yank the reader straight out of the story. Forget iffy wording, this is terrible wording. Describe her death, don't state it.

A better example. Without naming names - because the first rule I set for myself was never to belittle authors; they're published and I'm not so they're better than I am - you'll frequently run across authors who'll tell us a character has traits without actually ever giving us example. Ashley has awesome ninja skills? She just got into a fight! Why didn't she use them? Brent is clumsy? Huh? Really? (That said, "clumsiness" is not a proper flaw damn you!) Describe moments in which these traits are used, don't tell us they have them.

There's a closely linked thing called immersion. DNS/SNT leads to immersion, immersion leads to a good reading experience. If the writer tells the reader something outside of the story without adequate lead-up it's not going to be good. Take this:

" Ashley clenched her fists and looked down, watching them whiten as she spoke. "We're not going to Chicago, Brent."

Oh, by the way, Ashley was assaulted in Chicago when she was twelve. It's actually the event that led to her desire to train in karate and... "

No, no, no! She can choose this moment to reflect on her memories and Brent can then break in in an attempt to soothe her worries, but don't break in here to tell us, it breaks immersion and look what just turned up again? Describe, don't state!

Note: I don't do tear-jerking, sorry!

Note 2: Any names are purely accidental. Sorry if your name is Alice or Brent!

Note 3: My clumsiness comment was not aimed at Twilight. I don't particularly like Twilight, but it's published and so I won't comment (Bella's self-deprecating anyway. That's a flaw apparently).

Thank-you again and see you next time! Textnovel starts tomorrow, so there may be a post... don't hold me to it though!

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