Thursday, October 27, 2011
Still on the writing blogs in honor of NaNoWriMo...
Such a naughty word.
But how do you describe YOUR characters.
Do you go in depth in the first paragraph telling your reader that she has long, curving locks of a gold that reminds one of autumn leaves? Tell us about the scar on her hand from a cat scratch when she was 12? And how her eyes are an ever changing shade of blue? Etc.
Description is good. We want to have the tactile experience with you, writer. The reader wants to feel like they are there...
But if you spend three pages telling us what they look like-- You removed all the mystery.
Have you ever read a book and felt like you were the character? Rather than feeling like an outside reader, you felt like you were her/him experiencing everything?
These authors have mastered the smoke and mirror act that is really good storytelling.
So they tricked me?
Yes! In the most delicious way possible! Like a good street magician, they drew you in and made you believe the impossible! They weren't just words typed on a page, they were emotions triggered in your brain! You laughed out loud! You shed a tear. You smiled softly as he closed his arms around you.
You probably knew that the heroine had black hair. And yours isn't. But it wasn't shoved down your throat at length so you could become her, if only for 350 pages.
This is the magic.
But it happens in your head. Remember that you are painting a picture and yes, they have to see the colors. But don't walk the dog. You have probably heard this phrase before, 'walking the dog.'
You can write three pages of description. But then take them, save them to your harddrive for your own reference and never let them see the light of day again.
Your reader doesn't need to know all the world building/character building you did to create Marcy the time traveling vampire. They don't need to know that Jason once fell out of a tree when he was nine and that is why he has a bit of a limp.
Only tell them what they NEED to know to move the story forward. Only write that which they really MUST know to understand your world.
Their imagination will fill in the blanks.
Remember, you are creating a world and their own experience will color their journey there. Allow room for them to play. Allow space for them to immerse themselves in your characters.
And have fun with it!