The journey from world building to prose is a long and twisted one. We know what a specific plaza in a specific city looks like. We have all of the elements: weather, sound, objects, people, etc. But unless we put them together in some kind of rational order and present them in a logical sequence, all we have are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scattered on a table. We need to employ structured descriptions to allow the puzzle pieces to fall into place.
One of the best directors of the twentieth century, perhaps all time, had this to say: Alfred Hitchcock was accused of many things in his day, but being “dull” was never one of them. The little dull bits known as “stage directions” that are cluttering your work are driving readers away. Let’s see how to avoid them.
Your word choice may be killing your story in ways you haven’t realized. We’re always told to provide specific, concrete descriptions to guide the reader along in the fictive dream. But sometimes we overdo it. Read on for some examples of what I’m talking about.
“George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.” – Harrison Ford to George Lucas. Harrison was saying that if George had taken the time to read Star Wars out loud, he would have discovered problems that reading it silently couldn’t reveal. I like his wording better, but let’s take a look at what we’ll find in our work if we take the time to use the spoken voice.
[DISCLAIMER: My grammar advice is trustworthy for American English. Not so much if you’re in the UK. Please keep that in mind.] Edited February 5, 2015 – Added reference to source of British usage rule. The words “That” and “Which” are two of the most confusing words writers come face-to-face with every day. Some of you are familiar with a grammar tip I share on Twitter: That/Which: ‘That’ should introduce a restrictive clause (necessary for meaning). ‘Which’ is for non-restrictive (parentheticals)” When limited to 150 characters, the whole “that vs. which” thing can seem somewhat cryptic. What the heck is a restrictive clause? What do I mean by “Parentheticals”? I think a couple of quick examples will make it easier …
It’s been said “if you build it, they will come.” Well, I decided to put that to the test! If you’ve enjoyed the blog and would appreciate smaller-sized content that I don’t post here or on Twitter, I invite you to join me on my new Facebook author page: Nat Russo – Author. Please head on over and click the “Like” button for me. It will likely inspire me to continue producing quality content. But if nothing else it will give me a much-needed ego boost! 🙂 For some added incentive, I submit this picture of a skull on black…for no other reason than I like it…oh, and I write about people who play with dead things. What’s a little necromancy …
“Why should I be ashamed to describe what nature was not ashamed to create?” -Pietro Aretino Have you ever read a love scene that just didn’t work? What did you notice most about it? Did it read like an electrician’s manual? Did the characters suddenly morph into completely different people? Was the prose stilted, or conversely, so flowery and over-the-top it made you snort? Do you live in mortal fear of making these mistakes in your own writing? Love scenes are scary to write. There’s so much that can go wrong, a lot of people choose to bypass them altogether. Well, I’m here to tell you: you can write a love scene. Hell, with a little work, …
We’ve finally arrived! Welcome to Part 10 of a 10-part series on Using Twitter Effectively. We’ve covered all the dos and most of the don’ts, but one don’t remains: Lack of activity. This one is simple, so we’ll keep it short and to the point.
If you’ve been following this series, then over the last 3 days you’ve discovered the evils of Auto-DMs, the tediousness of people who tweet their shopping lists, and the dark side of Auto-Tweets. Today I’d like to take us one step further and talk about antisocial behavior and how it can <ahem> harm your efforts to build a writer’s platform.
In Part 4 of this 10-part series I covered the benefits of auto-tweeting, and I offered some links to automation tools that have helped me maintain a steady schedule of informational tweets. In today’s post I’d like to cover the dark side of auto-tweeting. This should be relatively short, as I think you’ll find most of it appeals to common sense.