Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Silent Treatment book trailer

Writing vs. Talking

There are a few reasons I like writing more than anything:

  • It allows me to daydream as much as I want
  • I can work through problems in a creative way
  • and I can redo my work many times to make it ready for the public.
Speaking is different. Speaking is all first draft, and as we all know: first drafts suck.

So if you meet me and want to discuss something important or upsetting, expect a lot of blank stares and shaky-handed eye coverings as I struggle for the right words.

"I just ... I mean ... I can't... I ..." sigh. Head shake.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How To Write: Chopping

When movies started talking in the 1930's, it's kind of all they wanted to do. Fill up that silence.
Just a few years before, characters communicated with a glance or a gesture, relying very little on title cards.

Eventually, moviemakers discovered that while their characters now had the ability to talk, they didn't have to do it all the damn time.

As a new novelist, you might face the same problem. Now you've got all these glorious words, and pages are stacking up, you love the feeling of having created something so ... BIG! But now I'm going to tell you to cut a chunk of those words and send them down the great cyber toilet.

Ooooh... bummer.

Let's talk about cutting scenes.

There are many stages of editing, but none more painful than taking a giant chunk right out of your book. That's a high word count to trash ... and there was that funny line in there you can't bear to part with.

Not sure what to cut? Take a look.

Let's say you're writing a story about a murder. The only way your detective character can trap the criminal is if he goes to the store first and picks up some supplies.

Scene 1:
The Detective and his friend are discussing how they can trap the criminal before she strikes again. They know ~information~ and how she'll react, they just have to lure her with enough candy to get her in the trap. (It's not original, but what do you want?)
The Detective says he'll go to the store, get the supplies, and the two will meet to set the trap.

Scene 2:
The Detective browses the aisles of CVS to get just the right kind of candy. Maybe his mind wanders and we learn some backstory.

Scene 3:
They have the supplies and set the trap, which stops the criminal.

When I write a story that follows a similar formula and proudly show it to my beta readers, one of them invariably comes back to me with, "the story was good, but wordy."
"WORDY?" The whole thing is words, right?

Here's what WORDY means: BORING.

By the time I get that critique, I'm full of my own words. "You stuck-up blankety-blank! That scene shows CHARACTER! It's got backstory! It's not wordy, you just don't get my writing."

We're writers and we're sensitive. Our books are our babies (for some of us, the only grand children my mom will ever get).

When I was reading another author's book, though, I came across a similar problem. I was THIS close to the good part, when I get stuck waiting for a damn train to cross the road. Once I trudged through, I realized if the author had started with the first scene and skipped to the third with the detective holding a bag of newly-bought candy, I could have assumed what happened in between.
Of course, when I see someone else doing it, it's easier to go back to my own novel and fix the mistake without all those hurt feelings.

That backstory or joke or clever line you've got in that dead scene? Either move those pieces somewhere else in the novel, or trash them.