Tuesday, June 21, 2022

3T Writing Tidbit

How to tell a story. 

There's an infinity in a nutshell, lol. There are countless books and people and articles and posts about how to tell a story. It's a little like explaining how to assemble a person. Do you start at the system or cell level? Describe generic features or that one set of green eyes that haunt you to this day?

So I'm just going to give you my advice on putting together the sequence of the story's events.

First, lay them all out chronologically. This will be the most understandable for everyone, author, reader, editor.

Now if you move chunks of the story out of order, do it to make the most emotional impact.

I've seen stories that reorder scenes to create mystery, and you can do that too. But you run the risk there of leaving the reader feeling tricked. To see that particular feat done right, check out Leverage, which often shows a scene as the bad guy thinks it's playing out, right until the reversal -- which is then explained by going back and showing the same scene with the effort our heroes are putting in.

 But reordering so the reader can have more feels? Generally much more satisfying and better accepted.

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.   

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

2T Repeat Performance -- Splashing Verbal Paint

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published May 19, 2011 for Autumn Shuty

Splashing Verbal Paint

First, thanks so much to A.L. for having me here today!

A vacation picture. Movies on the big screen. Dreams, swirling with color. Except for smell (new-mown grass, a mother’s perfume), nothing connects us to reality like image.

We've heard show-don't-tell, but isn't it all just words? How can words show?

I think of it like splashing verbal paint on canvas. I’m taking my example from Biting Me Softly because I know how I changed it. Well, and because it’s In Stock at bookstores across the US ☺ “I” is Liese, a Saint-Pauli-girl-next-door programmer. Her hero is Logan Steel, over six feet of golden, graceful vampire.

Here’s the original, where Logan takes a phone call. It’s a pretty good painting (Also Sprach Zarathustra is the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey).

Also Sprach Zarathustra cut me off. Logan snapped out the cell just as the heavens opened and the brass and tympani exploded. 

“Geez,” I said. “Is that a phone or a home theater system?”

Logan grinned. “What can I say? I run a security shop. I have to keep up with technology.”

“Or you have the latest toys to stay alpha geek.”

“That too. Steel.” Almost immediately Logan’s tone moderated. “Yes, sir.”

His tone was filled with respect, like he was speaking to an esteemed superior. That baffled me because as CEO of one of the biggest security firms in the tri-state area, most of the state—most of the Midwest—heck, most of the nation was Steel’s underling.

The bit about “CEO of one of the biggest security firm...” etc etc, is a little long and clumsy. How about this instead?

But Logan was a prince of business. Nobody outranked him.

I think “Prince” draws a picture that “CEO...” etc etc can't match. What about you?