Wednesday, July 9, 2014

07/09/2014 Writing Wednesday!

Greetings everyone and welcome back. I hope so far the week has been nice to you. There hasn't been any "bee attacks" so I'm good in that respect. That doesn't mean I'm not on the look out though...always vigilant. I'm not a sport-liking or caring about person, but we had the World Cup on yesterday at work, and oh man the Blitzkrieg was just awful. It got to the point where the lot of us were just confused as to whether or not it was ok to keep watching. I've been pretty good about being able to just ignore it while it's been on, but when there was a score almost any time I looked back at my computer, that was a bit distracting. I also had no idea scores in soccer (or football, whatever) got that high.

So looking at things people care about, well at least I care significantly more about, writing stuff! One of thine difficult things to do when editing or at least going over your first draft and realizing parts make absolutely no sense so you put more stuff in, is the part where you actually add stuff. Exposition can be a little jarring not just because you need to make sure you keep the feel of whatever was happening before, but because if you're not careful you can easily get out of control with it.

Think about the last book you read that just seemed to go into way too much detail about something you just stopped caring about two paragraphs back. Let's be honest here, it's fine, this is a safe place to talk about it. I'll go first since I'm the one typing and unless there's a discuss in the comments section I can't actually hear you (and it would be scary if I could right now). First let's look at classic literature, 'The Scarlet Letter' is seen as one of the greatest pieces of writing and is also required reading in some high schools (mine), however there were points when I just got super done caring about whatever was currently being described. You want to take 3 pages to talk about the letter A? Alright, but Sesame Street takes less time to do that. Also, I'm pretty sure those 3 pages were all one paragraph and that is a major pet peev for me. I also love the Lord of the Rings books, absolutely, but there were points when I have to agree with that analysis in Clerks 2; there's a lot of walking in those books, even the trees walked.

Those are examples where exposition gets out of hand, in my opinion. I may have just sparked my first flame war. That would be kind of exciting! Another problem is when people do the opposite out of fear of doing too much. I sometimes suffer from this, but it's partially the fear of putting in pages and pages of text that's just description, and also a joining of the fact that the actual things are in my head already. See, for me typing things out is  the only way I can be consistently articulate, but even then sometimes I get ahead of myself and my brain convinces me that everyone else will understand what I mean even though they aren't "seeing" what I am. That's when you get things where you think you put in a good description of a person, and you remember doing it too, but when someone who isn't you has a chance to read the story they will come to you and point out they have no idea what you're talking about there.

There are a couple ways to avoid getting caught in either trap. When it comes to making things too long, look at your paragraph length and also consider what else is happening in that scene. If you are in the middle of some climactic reveal, like a dragon just burst through a wall and is shooting fire everywhere and your heroes are forced to dive for cover, but you take 4 pages to talk about the scales that cover the dragon's skin, there's a chance you're going to want to dial it back a bit. If it's that long by the time the action starts again your reader is going to either have forgotten what's going on, or will have skipped the description entirely to get back to the action. For things that are too short, or if you're worried they are, come back to the story  a month or so later and read it again. If you find you are reading that part over more than once to figure out what you were trying to get at, it likely means you need to put more information into that piece of exposition.

This is also where having a second set of eyes comes in handy. They will be able to tell you where things need to be adjusted since they don't know the things you do. The reader won't have access to your vast well of brain-knowledge (unless they do, then you need to talk to them about other things) and if they are pointing out your descriptions and explainers are causing a bit of issues, then when you go back through the story you should take a look at them to see how to adjust things. It might take some work, but it'll be worth it in the end.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Tomorrow is Rifftrax Live: Sharknado, and hopefully things will work out the way they're supposed to. I am looking forward to it, so I hope everyone who is going has a great time. I'll see you all later!

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