Tuesday, June 20, 2017

3T Writing Tidbit


When to break the rules, once you know what the rules are and what they're for, is relatively easy. One of the things I've struggled with is what to do when two or more rules conflict with each other. Break one? Break the other? Break both?

Here's one of my worst.
RULE 1. No backstory for 30 pages.
RULE 2. Show, don't tell.

What if I have a past detail that needs to be embedded to make sense of the current action? Do I do a flashback so I'm not Ms. Exposition, or do I quick tell the fact?

Say the fact is that Sir Reginald is main character Tina's father.

I've found most non-author readers will cut you a little slack when it comes to simply spewing a few details. Try not to make it too obvious, like "Tina, of course you know Sir Reginald is your father..."

Readers will cut you a little less slack when it comes to flashbacks, but they'll still go along if it's entertaining and they know it's going to make the current action better. For example,
Sir Reginald held the little bundled form in his arms. "Tina, sweetheart, I'll be the best daddy I can."

But why not try to combine the two? Try to drop the info in as a SHOW into the current action? Better yet, add conflict. Like:
She picked up the picture of Sir Reginald holding the pink-blanket-wrapped bundle and shoved it in Tina's face. "He's your father. Deal with it!"

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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