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Friday, June 29, 2012

Free Thoughts 6/29

When I started doing these Free Thoughts I said I wanted to do at least one a week, and now it's Friday and I haven't done one yet.  Thing is I don't even have a prompt for me to go into a tangent about.  Not knowing what to write, but still putting words down on paper (or in this case the screen) can easily turn into ramblings of a long digression.  That's what makes picking a certain topic a great tool for these kinds of things.

It's also  a great practice in regular prose writing.  When I find myself stuck on where a story should go I typically begin writing random things about a main character.  This fleshes out the character in a way you, as the author, don't plan ahead of time.

In the book I'm working on now, in just such a moment I spent numerous paragraphs detailing the character's morning routine when getting ready for late after waking up early, which led into overly descriptive paragraph of his belt-buckle and socks.  Reading this description of those descriptions undoubtedly leads to disbelief of the entertainment value of reading such explanations but those few short paragraphs dig deeper into the character than any average fundamental paragraph would.

The reader comes away with a better understanding of the character and makes them more vested in the outcome of his story, however it's a delicate balance of enjoyable deviation and tedious diatribe.  Furthermore, if it is a successful exposition, as an author, you have to refrain from using this tool to explain every detail.  Too much of this informative digression slows the progression of the story and your words end up like reading a dictionary.

Another useful tool, one that I'm just really getting into using after switching from short stories to a novel, is section breaks, not to be confused with chapters.  This also take a balancing act to use properly.  Too many breaks and you're once again slowing down the narrative, not letting scenes develop fully.  Not using enough, or any, can make a story feel too rushed, or the reader can feel they're being bombarded with too much information and not enough time to muse over it all.

When writing any scene know where you want to go with it and how it should end.  Begin writing that, and obviously changes will happen during the process, but once you get to the desired end scene... section break.