Recently I accidentally poured boiling water on my timber bench top. It buckled and warped and bits of timber fell off. I had to take all the pieces off, glue them down again, sand them, putty the gaps and apply several coats of varnish.
At the time it struck me that this whole process was like a metaphor for what I was going through with my current work in progress.
I have written the first draft of my YA psychological thriller, but at the moment it’s just a series of actions on paper – a plot expanded into 60,000 words. It’s telling a story, but it’s not really showing one – it’s not going to draw the reader into the main character’s world – at least, not yet.
I need to pull my manuscript apart and re-glue it so that the plot is stronger and the conflict is more powerful. I need to fill in the missing bits and to polish it till it shines.
If you read my blog post, 2012 – The Year of Possibilities and Learning, you’ll recall that one of my major goals for this year was to learn - to hone my writing skills. Writing is a lifelong apprenticeship and I don’t believe you ever stop learning. This was confirmed for me at last year’s LA conference when I saw bestselling authors sitting in on the workshops of other bestselling authors.
In pursuit of my ‘learning goal’, I started 2012 by doing an Active Setting course with Mary Buckham – and it was amazing. Setting has never been one of my strong points. It has always been something I put in my work to help the reader visualise where they were, but thanks to Mary, I realised that setting has to do so much more.
It has to:
- orient the reader in the story.
- evoke feelings, images and emotions for the reader. In other words, have sensory detail.
- show character
- be part of the conflict in the story
- how back story
- reflect the main character’s point of view
- show the emotions of the main character in response to conflict and action
I’m feeling so inspired after doing Mary’s course.
With my new understanding of setting, I believe my writing is so much better:)
Scene from Chapter 9 of my WIP
Someone was definitely following me.
After the movies we headed to the Pancake Parlour and ordered our usual short stack and a thick shake.
Next we had a game of chess, another routine instigated by Jess. She was a whizz at chess, so Steve and I always teamed up against her, but we still never won. We lived in hope that it might happen one day.
As we walked through the darkened street, the half moon flicked a Hansel and Gretel path through the trees.
A moth fluttered past my ear. As I shook my head, the rustle of my hair seemed amplified. My fear caught between the strands. I stopped and the footfalls behind me stopped too. I resisted the urge to glance around.
“Come on.” Jess pulled me towards the Pancake Parlour and we ran inside.
As we escaped the cool air, our breath came in dragon bursts, like smoke. Jess took her usual seat in front of the chess table. Steve and I squashed in together on the other side of the wooden booth.
What have you learned recently that’s going to change the way you write?
I’d love you to share with us in the comments section of this post.
Don’t forget, if you’d like feedback on 150 words of your manuscript, send it to me, Dee*at*deescribe*dot*com*dot*au For more information, check out Friday Feedback