I read quite a bit and while it is something I enjoy, the more you read the more you find books that fall short of your own expectations. In fact, if you are in the writing field you most likely have said at some point or in some variation, “This book got published? I should be fine then.”
Now I don’t count myself an expert of all things writing and I hope to learn the entirety of my writing career. There are some things though that have come to my attention and it made me start thinking about why things work and why they don’t.
Jim Butcher says when he writes a chapter that he tries to make it a mini story with a beginning, middle and end. I always found that a cool way to look at it. I think that we should put that much thought into every scene as well.
A common thing I see when reading is people writing so as to push the story where they want it to go or to resolve something they wish to get past. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this. The problem arises when they forget to elements of the story they are crafting.
If a character is shy and often quiet, then they shouldn’t be used to as a tool to blow up and yell at another character unless it has been built up that they should do so. Readers are smart, they will see what you are doing and it will pull them out of the story.
Dialogue especially succumbs to this. You are writing a scene and you have this information that needs to come across so you begin a conversation between characters. So many times I’m pulled out by people not talking naturally or saying things that previous scenes make odd. If people have no clue about a certain type of magic or it is mysterious to them and they have little information don’t have those same people saying things like, “This magic is the best and I know it can beat all others.” If you want your reader to see that magic is the best drop more information about it or use a different source.
Also make sure you are bringing your character through in their dialogue. People talk a certain way and think a certain way. Figure out what makes your characters unique so that they feel real when talking. Also, once you establish who they are don’t constantly divert from that just to move a scene forward.
When I go into a scene I think several things. What do I want to accomplish with this scene? Who do I want to accomplish it with? How can I accomplish it within the parameters I have already set for those characters?
Many times I catch this in revisions. My first draft it to lay down the skeleton and the revisions are laying down the flesh. But if you go into the scene with a bit of forethought it can make revisions all the smoother.
Hope everyone is enjoying their week. Talk to you soon.
By Brandon Ax
Brandon Ax is the award-winning author of The Light Bringer Saga. He is an unapologetic nerd and obsessive revisor. The act of creating new worlds and interesting characters brings him great joy. He dreams of one day being as prolific as another famous Brandon … last name Sanderson, but for now he will settle with getting his next series started.