February 28, 2012 by Kiersi
How many times have you told someone something they didn’t really need to be told? “You look like shit today,” for example, when your friend is obviously under the weather. Or worse, “When are you due?” Only to find out she’s not expecting anything.
Learning how to omit the obvious, or even the not-so-obvious, is a hard task for those of us tasked with creating a reader’s world. I’ve briefly covered the topic of killing your darlings before; I illustrated cutting text to imply meaning, where the reader’s imagination does the work. The results can sometimes be more thrilling or terrifying than laying out the action on a moment-by-moment basis.
Today I want to cover how, instead of cutting out information, you can use negative space to eliminate the bore factor and make your story more exciting. (more…)
Category: How-to | Tags: descriptions, prose, setting the scene, the art of writing | 3 Comments
February 23, 2012 by Kiersi
We writers are intimately familiar with the senses. Most of our metaphors involve some form of touch (“the sun felt like a thousand tiny kisses on my skin”), and nine out of ten descriptions involve sight (“he looked distraught”). Hearing is almost always involved in action (“he gasped as my fist sunk into his diaphragm”), and characterization of dialogue could barely happen without it.
Today I want to talk about the lesser-used senses of smell and taste. Taste is usually reserved for two types of descriptions: kissing, and food. (Maybe more if you’re writing erotica or cookbooks. Or an erotic cookbook? That’s kind of a good idea, actually.) I find that smell is rarely used, unless the situation specifically warrants it, such as a room full of dead bodies, or, as has become more popular, when a YA female character is describing the scent of a male love interest. This seems to always involve a natural smell, like pine/grass/sunshine (seriously, I read a character describe her crush as smelling like sunshine), and in paranormal books, some kind of supernatural smell (such as vampires carrying around the smell of blood). (more…)
Category: How-to | Tags: characterization, descriptions, prose, senses, setting the scene | No Comments
February 21, 2012 by Kiersi
Here I stand, on the precipice of Act Two: 25,000 words into my new fantasy YA novel, and realizing that I’ve finally arrived at the hard part.
Writing Act One is often easy, and if it isn’t, you probably know less about your characters and your world than you should. Act One tells readers where the story is headed: it details the major players, the background, setting, and most importantly–the conflict. But once the groundwork has been done, there is still a story to tell. For me, as a writer, this sometimes is the hardest part. (more…)
Category: How-to, in progress | Tags: Juice, setting the scene, storytelling, the hobbit | 2 Comments
September 26, 2011 by Kiersi
I’ve added a post tag for “Setting the Scene,” because today I decided to write about settings, environments, backgrounds and scenery in creative fiction.
So much of a creative work’s power originates in the setting, it’s really impossible to ignore its importance in crafting an exciting story. I touched on this before when discussing the allure and power of the academic setting, such as in Harry Potter or The Name of the Wind.
Before I spend too much time blowing hot air out through my nose, I want to put some titles in front of you:
Battlestar Galactica (more…)
Category: Commentary, How-to | Tags: Kor, science fiction, setting the scene, storytelling | 3 Comments
September 15, 2011 by Kiersi
Tales of fantasy academia seduce me because they sound so much less drab than the plain, sterile and generally emotionless education that I received. Harry Potter’s teen opera is legitimized by the uniqueness—or is it imagery, or all of the above?—of the environment and the setting.
Some kids getting together in a library is pretty boring. Some kids getting together in a magic library with magic books is totally awesome.
They also allow for more interesting character appearances than actually occur in real life. I suppose that’s because you’d have to be a little mad to teach young magicians or alchemists or dragon riders, and ol’ third grade Mrs. Fleebe probably wouldn’t have sought such a position.
Magic brings peril to fantasy school settings much more than that grade school a bit down the street. There are no asylums or dungeons or anything of that sort at Capitol Hill Elementary, unless you count a teacher’s lounge buzzing under fluorescent lights. Much less prone to chemical fires and ogre attacks.
Category: Commentary | Tags: setting the scene, the plot thickens | 3 Comments