Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Executions Are Messy


All that blood, the occasional bird droppings from perched hopefuls looking for a free meal, entrails etc...

HOLD THE PHONE

I meant execution as in putting a new idea(l) into motion, not putting someone to death...

When it comes to writing a novel, the telling of a story is simply not enough. There's a right way and a wrong way to execute it. I find myself in the category of a 'storyteller,' not so much a 'real author.' This is aparent when I read books like the current one I'm devouring called "Neverwhere," by Neil Gaiman. I'm faced with the reality that I have a long way to go. While my writing is impressive to some, it is also quite lacking to others. It, like most things, is all relative, as the saying goes.

So, here's the question.

What do YOU do as a writer, to help ensure you aren't just 'telling' a story?

Please, nobody quote the "show don't tell" thing... I'm looking for more than that from you all today.

11 comments:

Taylor Taylor said...

I try to craft each scene. Each scene is almost a mini-piece of flash fiction: it has a beginning, middle, and end and is connected to the previous scene (hopefully giving them the page-turning quality we all love). Each scene has a specific conflict(s) and goal.

I don't know if that helps. :-)

Susan Quinn said...

I've been delving into craft lately, and trying something similar to Taylor^2 but with individual paragraphs - each having a mini-scene. Also: I love to put dramatic endings to chapters, ala serials of the past, egging you on to the next chapter.

arlee bird said...

I really like dialogue -- to advance the plot, provide insight to the characters, and interject occasional fun stuff.
Lee

Bane of Anubis said...

Inventing ways to execute people is great fun, though.

Elana Johnson said...

Man, this is a really hard question. But you're totally right. There's more than simply telling a story. I think for me, it's pulling the reader along, pushing them toward the conclusion, that really makes the writer become an author. You realize that they're so masterful that you've gone along with them, and they've led you to the exact conclusion you didn't know you were hoping for.

How to achieve that?

Uh...

David J. West said...

I engage the senses, you smell what the hero smells hear what the villian hears, taste what the heroine tastes and feels what the villianess feels.

The more sensory and tactile I can put you in the story, the more it will move you.

Voidwalker said...

Taylor Taylor: So, story within a story within a story etc... I like it.

Susan: Yes, as a reader, I definitely appreciate dramatic chapter endings. I suppose this relies on how well the little mini stories withing the overall story go.

Arlee: Sounds like a character driven plot.

Bane: LOL... Nice

Elena: I like the picture you paint of pulling or pushing a reader along. I think that puts a nice angle on it.

David: You know, of all the senses I have the hardest time with smell. I have a horrible sense of smell, so it is hard for me to really put emphasis on it. I know it's a poor excuse, considering Helen Keller was able to write about things she never saw, but I'm just sharing my known fault of poor smell-sense usage. :P

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I almost didn't comment because you're expecting so much from us today. My brain is shutting down from editing all day. BUT I will try to give an okay answer.

I read A LOT. Even the books my friends say were awful. We can learn a lot about what NOT to do from the bad books.

kelly said...

For me, most projects begin while I'm out for a run: A single phrase that feels pleasing in the ear and in the mouth expands to a sentence which expands into an image. I'll go over it again and again in my head, adding a sentence at a time. Normally, I can hold up to two pages in my head, and I write them down as soon as I get back. I'm not always (ok, fine *ever*) sure where those pages will lead me, and usually I write the same way I read - blindly, rapidly, with a growing sense of discovery and wonder - but I always enjoy the journey.

Voidwalker said...

Karen A.H.: Thank you for participating. I know I ask a lot from my readers LOL :) I just find things get more personal & fun when I ask people to join in and share.

Kelly: I totally understand. I have the same issue when I'm driving. It seems like to and from work I get all my ideas, then I have to voice-note them into my phone until I get home.

middle grade ninja said...

On a first draft, I just tell the story most of the time and fix it up later with prettier images and sensory details and all those fancy writer tricks we love so much. Also, I’m big on writing in either the first person or third person fixed, which helps me out quite a bit. I pick one character and stick with him/her/it per chapter/book and try to see the scenes as they unfold from their perspective. That way the details the narrator notices are the details the character noticed and the direction the narrative heads is the direction the character wants to go.

And I always include plenty of jokes when appropriate! That way if I screw up completely and the story doesn’t work, the reader might at least have one laugh not at my expense.