Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rise and Fall



Yep, I am back after a brief sabbatical of trying to get not 1 but 3 books into publication shape!

I have also been doing a lot of writing coaching and as always I have sensed a pattern common to newer writers and I felt like everyone (even authors 5-100 books in have to remind themselves of this) could use a little reminder of making sure your writing has rise and fall.

What do I mean by that?

Simple. Your writing should breathe...

There are times when you will take quick, short breaths. Other times you will sigh gently.

Through out the book, section, chapter, paragraph and even sentence your writing should have a sense of movement.

You need to be not only going somewhere with it, but going with purpose.

Another analogy would be the make sure your writing is shaded. Not everything should be black and white. Especially your character's motivations. There should be a million shades of gray in there.

I know, I know... easier said than done.

But not really. You can truly breath life into a paragraph just by making sure that your sentences are not all the same length (and therefore the thought process behind them). Make sure that either external or internal dialogue rises from the character and not just from you. Make sure your prose is written through the eyes of the SPECIFIC character that you are in their POV.

Normally by applying these simple criteria, you can really get your writing MOVING :-)

Example:

The bedroom's walls were a dull white whereas the carpet was a light beige. There were not many knicknacks on the dresser however the closet was full to near bursting. All manner of clothing, shoes, and sports equipment threatened to tumble out at any moment.

Explanation:
There is nothing really wrong with the above paragraph, except of course it is told in passive voice. However, beyond that it is monotonous and lacks any rise and fall.

Rewrite:
Dull, dull, dull. The walls, the carpet, even the bedspread looked like they had been washed in the same dirty creek. Even weirder the dresser was so spare it felt Spartan yet the closet was like a level-5 Hoarding situation. Who the hell lived like this?

Can you feel the difference? The difference in sentence structure. The difference in SPECIFIC language and an internal POV evident.

How about you test your rise and fall. Go pick a random page. Point out at least 5 places where you demonstrate movement and draw the reader in.

Feel free to comment below with a sample and I will swing by and critique it if you like!

#Goodtobeback :-)

10 comments:

  1. Wow, you are awesome :o) Since I'm working on rewrites, I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much!

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  2. I've met some wonderful people on Twitter. You're def one of them! Ur a great writer...without the drama...Lol. Very good read! @nailahcarter

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  3. Yes, it's better, but it's still largely passive in its verb construction. Active construction might have resulted in:
    The bedrooms walls painted a dull white mirrored the carpet's light-beige lack of daring. Few knicknacks adorned dresser, however shoes and clothes burst from the closet with all manner of clothing, shoes, and sports equipment threatening to tumble out at any moment.

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  4. Ah, but you must balance active construction against flare and personality. Yes, your rewrite is technically more active, yet I know far less about the character walking into that room.

    It is of course an individual call, but I usually lean towards the flare rather than worrying 24/7 about active vs passive voice.

    Plus your rewrite does a lot of telling with way more descriptors in there and not a lot of impressions (showing).

    Again, which is better... is in the eyes of the beholder :-)

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  5. I agree with you, but wanted to note that the two examples (write and rewrite) sounded totally different in voice. The first read somewhat literary in style, the second read like a trendy YA novel.

    But, point well taken about the variance in sentence structure. Cadence is prudent to a novel's success and readability. I've found that often newer writers do this when they don't actually know how to vary their sentences, when they haven't been reading much outside of their own work, OR when they're paranoid about self-editing while they are writing that first draft. Any of those issues can be fixed with a little bit of effort and time.

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  6. If trendy is the desire then "Dull dull dull" is fine, but that kind of writing is also seen as a cliche in many circles because it is so trite. If your audience is 10-14 year olds then maybe it's ok, but...

    Active voice is more cinematic and when scanning a room as with a video camera...

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  7. Um...
    I usually do not respond to Anonymous comments because come on... if you have an opinion then own it, right?

    And especially if the comments are going to be demeaning then give me a chance to look at your writing and even more importantly your sales record since you are referencing the ability to sell.

    Because talking about 'in some circles' is a little silly, right? What circles and are they even part of my key demographic?

    Ultimately your writing career comes down to... are you happy with your writing and your sales?

    I am extremely delighted with both.

    So your trite is my royalty check :) #Iamcoolwiththat :-)

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  9. Really a great work. I really enjoyed greatly. I will return back soon for read your entire work.

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