Recently, I finished a first draft of an Enoch/Fallen Angels novella that I want to do something with–not sure what yet. I’ve thought about putting it online for free–which I can’t do at amazon unless it price matches smashwords and other sites–but I’ve never had much luck getting amazon to price match. Then I thought of putting it on my webpage for free, but I can never tell if anyone ever reads those or not. I don’t get any feedback, so they’re sort of frustrating, so I’m still debating. But just writing the damned story was a bit frustrating, too. I started out with one idea, and the story sort of decided to do its own thing–which I don’t usually allow–but this time, I decided to go for it. And it ended up more of a mystery plot than an urban fantasy. I like it, but the plot took over the story, and that, I don’t like. The story’s not immediate. It keeps the reader at a distance, which might be all right for a mystery, but it’s not all that great for urban fantasy. So I want to tweak the voice more.
Voice is the one thing that sets one writer apart from all others. It’s the turn of phrase, the attitude and word choice, the themes he chooses, and the way he structures his story that makes him unique. But more than that, some writers are more cerebral than others. My friend, Paula, writes stories with so many layers and so much depth that I happily immerse myself in them and try to keep up. Mary Lou Rigdon (also Julia Donner) imbues her novels with wit and humor. A new writer to our group, Sia Marion, practically lives inside her characters’ skins and we share what’s happening to them. Her stories are so immediate, the reader just goes along for the ride. (See for yourself. She has lots of flash fiction on her webpage: http://sia4215.blogspot.com/)
I’ll never be THAT immediate, so, how do I breathe more feeling into my Enoch novella? For that, I usually have to delve deeper into my characters. Any writer who’s finished more than a few stories and gotten feedback knows that you never tell. You show. Every description and experience is told through your character’s eyes, hopefully, through action or dialogue. And that’s a start, but it’s not enough.
When I have Enoch walk up to Caleb’s casino and fortress, I show it through his eyes and share his reactions/feelings to his friend’s obsession for pleasure. I was happy enough with that, but once the plot hits full swing, I have Enoch react, but his reactions don’t let us know enough about him. They’re not telling enough–those small, fleeting thoughts that reveal character. I need more internal dialogue, more give and take with people who push Enoch to places he’s not comfortable with. I need more emotion! Another rule for making writing immediate is to get rid of the “he thought,” “he wondered,” type phrases in your writing. Instead of “Enoch wondered if he could trust Darius,”–which creates a distance between the thought and the reader, just say, “Could he trust Darius? Enoch glanced at the vampire beside him. Vampires were hard to read. Could he believe anything Darius told him?” Just an example. I want the reader to be inside Enoch’s head, to “hear” his thoughts.
Anyway, some writers are more immediate than others, but it’s something to consider when you write. The more immediate, the bigger the emotional pay-off. An entire novel doesn’t have to be written one way or another. There are action scenes, “soft” scenes that let the reader catch his breath, and scenes for emotional impact. But there should never be a boring scene. That’s when the reader can put the book down, and he might not pick it back up.
6 thoughts on “Writing: How do you make it immediate?”
Thank you for mentioning me! Wow! I just finished Empty Altars and loved it! So glad I don’t have to wait to read Spinners of Misfortune! I like the blend of Norse and Greek. It’s adding a cool tension .
Glad you like it. I love using Greek and Norse gods for characters. I’ve decided I wouldn’t want their jobs–too much responsibility.
Few writers have your kind of courage and abilty to share. I’m still working on how to be as critical about what I write, (so needed for better writing), and you just lay it all out there for the blog world to read. Kudos! And thanks for all you do!
Poppycock! (Thought you’d like that since it sounds sort of Regency like:) You’re every bit as brave, and you share in different ways. I was just frustrated with this story, but woke up this morning with a fix in my head. Love waking up with writing kinks all straightened out. The good, old subconscious can always be counted on.
Immediate=tension. At least to me. I think that’s why backstory fails to hold my attention. Even if something’s integral to the character/plot/scene, I need to read it as it happens.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom Judith. You are my mentor (and I have Empty Altars on my Kindle, just waiting for some free time!)
Hope you like Empty Altars. And true, tension makes everything immediate. Some writers have a knack, though. Even their descriptions feel like I’m in the story with them.