Tuesday, October 18, 2016

3T Writing Tidbit

The last four months we've been bringing clarity to muddy scenes or plots with different approaches, before the beginning, starting from the end, paring the element into its essentials.

One last way to keep clarity but still have depth (without boring repetitions!) is the technique of introducing a conflict at a shallow, superficial level, then deepening it.

Why is this so hard? Well, as students we're taught to write essays and position papers. We are taught to put our topic sentence first, then expand, then reiterate. In other words: say what you're going to say; say it; say what you've said.

Not in fiction.

In fiction, we must start with the most surface of actions. Then we find an explanation or motivation for that action...which uncovers another, deeper action. Which leads us to a deeper explanation...which uncovers a deeper action yet. Et cetera, et cetera.

Overly Simplified Example--Schoolgirl Jane avoids cracks in the sidewalk. Jane, it turns out, has heard the children's rhyme "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." The class bully taunts Jane by stomping on a crack. Jane screams and punches the bully in the face. Jane is hauled before the school principal, who demands Jane apologize to the bully. Jane refuses. Jane's parents are called into the school, but only the father comes. When presented with Jane's behavior, the father sighs. Jane's mother is dead of ovarian cancer. It presented as back pain the same day Jane stepped on a sidewalk crack. Jane feels guilty, as young children do, over her mother's death, and blames herself.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

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