Friday, November 24, 2006

Writing Craft

Yesterday while basting, simmering and mashing I occurred to me I never wind up with the story beginning I start with. Plotting, synopsis, characters biographies while all useful story telling tools have not conquered my need to include way too much set up. Sadly, the awareness that the story needs to start five, ten, fifteen pages later than it does is not obvious until the story has progressed.

On the plus side, now days I recognize the opening is wrong all by myself. When I first started writing, the thought that the reader didn't need all that background never crossed my mind. Including too much back story is a common inexperienced writer mistake. Many craft books and articles warn of this pitfall. So why is it that I continue to have to learn the hard way? I wish it weren't true. But it is. Reading good advice, taking classes and attending helpful workshops only succeeds in teaching me when I've made enough mistakes to be willing to learn.

Objectivity, like judgement is darn hard to come by when the work in question is only slightly less dear than your first born.

On the chance you learn more painlessly that I, here's what helps me gain precious objectivity:

reading aloud - helps most with puncuation, awkward phrasing, dialogue

color coding - different hues for dialogue, action, description, internalization and emotion great graphic of what's missing

letting the story rest - until the first euphoria of creativity has passed and I'm willing to read the story with cold eyes


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