“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Writing Craft Recap for April

2012 is my "learning the writing craft" year. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some highlights of what I learned. And here I go.

This was my month, mostly, to apply what I learned the first three months - but I did pick up some knowledge along the way. I'm sharing it below.

From editing the first three chapters of Handmaiden to a Princess:
  • Description is generally more effective when it's short and to the point.
  • Finding JUST the right word is incredibly difficult.
  • My default writing is overly descriptive - but I know how to fix it!
  • Varying sentence structure and length can make a HUGE difference in how well your writing flows.
From the last two-thirds of Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress (check last month's post for what I learned from the first third!):
  • The basic techniques for creating humorous characters are exaggeration, ridicule, and reversal of expectations.
  • Keep ethnicity, family background, region, gender, education, and circumstances in mind as you develop your character's dialogue/dialect.
  • Real dialogue and fictional dialogue are NOT the same.
  • The most important thing to remember about love, sex, fight, and death scenes is that the characters should perform them in keeping with the personality you have given them so far.
  • The most important emotion in fiction is frustration, because without it, there is no plot.
  • The main expression of your character's frustration should be action that moves the story forward.
  • Though dialogue may lie, the body doesn't.
  • If you use more than one POV character, it's important that the reader knows this fairly early in the story.
  • When writing in third person, use the fewest points of view you can get away with and still tell the story you want to tell.
  • Omniscient point of view isn't just head-hopping. It must include authorial presence.
  • The single largest aid you can give yourself as a writer is to regard your fiction as your characters' story - not your own.
From the May issue of The Writer and the May/June issue of Writer's Digest:
  • Your theme should be intrinsic to the story.
  • Your fiction should contain an abundance of places where your description of the setting calls the reader's attention to whatever theme you are striving to convey.
  • One of the richest veins to mine for story subject is where two contradictory statements are equally true.
  • A quote by Tawni O'Dell: "You don't decide to become a writer and then start writing. You write and write and then accept one day -  with a mix of immense pride and mild horror - that you are a writer."
Hope you learned something as well. Watch this spot next month, where I'll share what I learn in May - including from Devon Ellington's class Setting as Character (which is ALREADY amazingly helpful!), and possibly Janice Thompson's Humor in Writing class on the ACFW course loop.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting or helpful to you?

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Your comment regarding effective descriptions is one I need to work on. I tend to "see" what I'm writing very clearly, so many details. I love to add those details into my writing, but my crit partners often point them out as being over-abundant. A few highlight and deletes later, preserving the most vivid descriptions, and my writing becomes much stronger. :)


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