Is that bad? Setting, clothing, appearance, I’m not a big describer of any of them. My rule has always been that less is best, so I don’t interrupt the flow of the story.
Give me a piece of jewelry, though, and I’m all over it. Funny thing is, I don’t even wear that much jewelry. I guess I just like to look at it. The Houston Museum of Natural History has a new jewelry and gemstones display, and I think I could have hung out there for hours. It gave me some new ideas for pieces in my story.
The problem now is to not get carried away. ^_^ I’ll keep repeating it: less is best, less is best.
What do you love to describe? Do plants move you? Nature in general? Are you a jewelry describer like myself or are you carried away by faces? Or none of the above?
Also, I’ve been blogging for a year now! Holy crap!
When do you use them?
My characters had several dead-ends to investigate while looking for clues to the villain’s identity. I thought there were too many to do in “real-time” so I used what would be a montage in a movie, but is more like a summary in a book, I guess. A little glimpse of description and what happened followed by the mc thinking something along the lines of, “Damn, not this one either!” I tried to intersperse these summaries with longer passages of description and dialogue where the characters piece together what they know.
I have no idea whether it works or not. I like it, but I’m going to depend on the writing group to tell me if it’s flowing the way I want it to and whether it should be expanded or cut down even further to, “They looked all day and found nothing.” I don’t want too abrupt a fast forward, but I also don’t want the reader to feel like I’m dragging my feet or wasting time before the end.
Does this type of short summarization usually work for you? Or would you rather read, “Later that afternoon, they still hadn’t found anything.” The first approach gives more of a sense of time passing, imo.
I’m trying to cut as I write now so I don’t have to do so much later. The thing I’m finding easiest to cut is dialogue. I love good banter, but sometimes, I think I have the tendency to let my characters chatter, just because I like hearing what they have to say.
However, chatter does not a good story make. I’m hesitant to cut other things, though. I don’t do enough description to warrant cutting what I do have. I suppose there are certain scenes I could lose, but I do believe my best bet is to take out some of the talking. I’ll save it to a folder, though, for the author’s definitive ZOMG edition. ^_^ Ah, I love to dream….
Do you have something you lean on that you usually end up chopping? Dialogue? Travel? Description? My other bane is sometimes thoughtful exposition. Do your characters think too much?
Yesterday, I changed the beginning of a ms I’d already finished, and I like it so much better now. I liked the first one, too, until I posted it in a blog contest where everyone submitted their first paragraph.
Now, I opened with a dead body. My ms is an urban fantasy (the contest wasn’t limited to this), and I thought opening with a body would be dramatic. Well, to make a long story short, so did everyone else.
So many dead bodies! Granted, most of those were from mystery or thriller ms’s, but damn! So I started to think that I should open with something else. I moved the narrative back a little bit and showed what led to the dead body, and suddenly, the scene wasn’t about the body anymore. It was about the mc, the person it should have been about the entire time.
I’ve come to understand that little online contests are good for this sort of thing. I could see what everyone else was doing, and I could try to make ms a little different. Maybe I’ve finally clued into a reason for all those rejections. I hope I have. I’ve got much more confidence in my opening now than I ever did.
Are openings this hard for anyone else? Is the beginning even more important than the end, just because that’s what an agent or editor sees first?
So, the winners of the Backspace Writers Conference scholarships are supposed to be announced today. I really hope I get picked. Wannnnaaaa goooooo! ^_^
In better news, I found out why IGMS never responded to my submission. Their editor had some extreme bad luck last year. Like, surgery followed by computer crash bad luck. They tell me my story is still under consideration, so fingers crossed! I would really love to be in that magazine.
In news of about the same level, the bridge building I spoke of in my last post is going well. I’ve decided to use action scenes to hurry the reader toward the ending. Plus, I’m adding a bit of much needed humor to break a little of the tension. I hope to get any readers very relaxed before I drop a bomb on them. ^_^
Anyone else have any good news? Feel free to shout-out here.
So, I’m coming to end of my novel (as you may have noticed ^_^) and I was worried about too many words.
And now I have too few. I hate padding, but I need a bridge between now and the ending in my ms. The scenes seem to be nothing but talking; a fight would seem forced. I’m going to have to think of a way to absorb the info getting passed around in these padded chapters into the rest of the story and then dumping most of these chapters altogether. Except, now I have to find places to add earlier. Hmmm, maybe an extended fight scene somewhere more appropriate. I love nothing more than a good fight scene….
How about you, readers who actually comment? When you reach the end of your ms’s, do you have to cut or pad?
My short story, “Damaged on Every Level”, that was published in Crossed Genres made Tangent Online’s 2009 Recommended Reading List!!!!!
I’ve been pretty busy these past few days. My husband and I took a day and went to Houston, and yesterday I spent all day adding up sales tax for our 2009 taxes. Needless to say, I didn’t work much on finishing my ms. It sort of reminded me of the end of the story, though. I’m scrambling to tie up loose ends, and all of a sudden, my characters are very busy.
I realized that I forgot to put in a party scene, so I squeezed that in, and then one of my heroines needs to train a spiffy new power. I’m either going have to expand these sections to slow them down or cut some of my more languid earlier scenes and just pull these hurried scenes back. Or maybe I’ll leave them hurried and have my characters thinking like I am now. It’s been a busy few days.
Do your characters ever feel hurried?
I am seriously dragging my feet as I come to the end of my latest ms. If I finish it, I will have to move on to other things! I will have to write the terrifying synopsis and crappy query! Ahhhhh!
Luckily, the writing group will keep me moving forward. I have to submit pages to them each week, so I’ve got no room to slack. That also means I have to decide rather quickly if I want to go with ending one or ending two. As I get closer, I’m hoping my gut feeling leads me closer to one of them. Heh, it probably will lead me to number one. That’s the happier ending. My husband says to go with the happier ending in the first book and save the unhappier ending for book two. Lessons we learned from The Empire Strikes Back.
I was watching an old sitcom the other day, and I spotted a tried and true plot device that made sense to me as a kid, but not anymore. It’s the main character’s birthday and everyone he knows pretends to forget and then throws a surprise party late in the day. He sees the party feels touched and forgets his hard feelings.
In reality, I think the mc would be initially surprised and then yell, “You assholes! You put me through an entire day of thinking no one cared about me! I thought of offing myself twice!” There has to be a better way of hiding a surprise party than snubbing the person and then saying just kidding. That’s supposed to make the entire party better? Ha, ha, you thought no one loved you, but we do? Couldn’t they tell him happy birthday quietly and then still have the party later? That way, he could think it’s a good birthday and then think it’s the best birthday.
Please, don’t let a hack surprise party happen to your manuscript. Now I sound like a public service announcement. Writers Against Cliches.