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.
Small distractions that pull you away from writing for short periods of time may improve your productivity. I know. It’s counter intuitive. But it’s also true. Let’s see why.
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.
I answer many questions on Twitter and Facebook on all aspects of writing. The most common question lately is “Should I use profanity in my writing?” The answer is simple: It depends. The question itself, however, is telling.
[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 …
When I hung my shingle out as a “Writer” on Twitter the most amazing thing happened: People began inviting me to share my work. They invited me to participate in all sorts of promotions and contests. One type of contest stood out among the rest: the Flash Fiction contest. Participating in these contests taught me a great deal about myself, and a great deal about writing.
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 …
[Update 03/05/2016: This was one of the articles I migrated from the old blog site. Some of the formatting zigged when it should have zagged. I’ve fixed it. Also, I did some additional editing. Why? Because I write gooder now. 🙂 ] I’ve been absent for several weeks, but let me assure you…it was by design. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I post a Tweet every couple of weeks that reads as follows: Sometimes you just need to step away for a while. As I prepare for at least two more weeks of hiatus, I’d like to delve a little deeper into that Tweet.
I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately from people who would like to see samples of my writing. Like most writers, I feel a certain amount of fear when it comes to sharing the material I write. Having never published officially, I guess I’m lacking that psychological “stamp of approval” we all need at the beginning of our careers. I’ve decided to share a piece of flash fiction I wrote for this years annual Lascaux Flash contest. I didn’t win…for that matter I didn’t even place…but, for better or worse, this is a sample of my work. I tend to write about dark subjects, and this is no departure from that habit. The contest is simple: Look …