A Break for the Holidays

It’s December, and Nanowrimo has come and gone. The writing workshop group that I lead at the Bixby Library has requested a break for the holidays. So, we won’t be meeting at the library until January. Instead I will concentrate on regular updates here!

REVISION, REVISION, REVISION

If you’ve been elbow deep in sprinting through a project for the past month, as I have been with Nanowrimo, you may not want to continue to work on it. If you’ve got the momentum and the drive, though, it might be time to think about revision. Revising is one of the steps beginner writers often overlook and writer wannabes are not wholly aware. Many writers will argue that in the revision the real magic of story begins to see its final form. Revision is a requirement at the least. Why wouldn’t you hone the effect of your words after you’ve gotten them out and onto the page? Just like learning to get the words on the page is a process, revision takes skill and effort to master.

CHARACTERS ALIVE

Character can bring a story to life, and the topic this week is a revision question on character. Do you leave enough up to your reader’s imagination?

Characterization is a balancing act. Bring your characters alive for your reader but don’t overly describe them through commentary and description. Omniscient narration can tempt you to describe your characters in one big chunk as you introduce them, and there are some literary predecessors who set this approach as a standard one. A distinctive detail or two suffice. Repeat those characteristic details throughout with development or variation and allow your reader’s imagination to fill in the rest.

A block of commentary or description is a break in the story, and story is what the endeavor is all about. Each detail of a character’s appearance is not important to the story. Give the reader the most important detail and get back to the good stuff.

Your goal is to create an illusion that the characters on the page are alive and real through your use of writing technique. Through repetition, rely on this character detail throughout the story and enable your characters to live on your page.

TRY IT AT HOME

Look through your story and locate the first appearance of a character. Do you describe their entire physical appearance in one chunk when they show up? What is the most important or most characteristic detail? What details have import to or impact on the events that happen later? Pick one and rely on that detail throughout your story.