Well talking about writing is a never ending subject and while there may be a lot of things I have missed, there are a few things I wish to talk about before September ends and I once again lose motivation to write.
Read the following:
Suchita walked through the empty house, a shiver running up her spine. She could hear the harsh, scared breathing of Anjlee in the background. She wondered where the rest of the household were. She said, “Where is the rest of the household?”
Now compare it to this:
Suchita walked through the empty house, a shiver running up her spine. She could hear the harsh, scared breathing of Anjlee in the background. She wondered where the rest of the household were. She said, “Let’s split up. Easier to find the others that way.”
What’s the difference?
In the first instance, the dialogue is redundant. The narration just said Suchita is wondering where everyone is. The dialogue then serves no purpose. In the second instance, the dialogue is moving the action ahead.
Here’s another for your consideration:
“I can’t…I don’t…can’t breathe.”
As compared to:
“I am scared and my heart is beating fast. I am panicking and I cannot breathe.”
What’s the difference?
A dialogue must read like its being spoken by an actual human and not a robot. Your dialogue cannot read like a narration. It needs to be more dynamic than that. An easy way to get this right is to say the dialogue, out loud.
High point vs Cliffhanger
The first draft of my manuscript that I deemed fit for consumption was distributed among 3 people for feedback. 2 out of the 3 absolutely love-hated the cliffhanger I had chosen to end my story on. The 1 told me the cliffhanger did not work because I stopped just when things were getting interesting.
I didn’t really understand her point because I had seen and read a lot of stories that chose to end on a cliffhanger and it worked well for them. It wasn’t until I read a novel, became a reader and was immersed in this world did I realize what that 1 person was trying to tell me.
To give the example of Infinity War, a cliffhanger would be once Thanos leaves Titan and comes to Earth as our Avengers are fighting his army and to end the movie there.
To continue the example, the high point of Infinity War was when Thanos snaps his finger and half the world turns to dust. And then the end credits roll.
What’s the difference? Why does one work and the other doesn’t when the snap could very well be a cliffhanger?
When you start writing, you are building up to something. That build up needs to have a pay off – a high point – where all that the characters have been through and all that the plot has been building towards, starts to make sense. Without this high point, the reader will feel cheated, will feel they haven’t gotten the proper ROI i.e. return on investment.
Now a cliffhanger may serve as a dramatic pause to the entire narrative, it is a place where you change your chapter or go from part I to part II. It is not the place you end your story on.
The difference is subtle. For example the breaking up of the fellowship at the end of Fellowship of the Ring can be interpreted both ways. But it is what the whole of first part has been leading towards, especially once Gandalf dies.
I finished my manuscript sometime in 2018 and hadn’t looked at it for almost a year. This summer I did, thinking I’d breeze past it but lo and behold I found more things to set right and one of the biggest of those were indulgences.
There was a chapter in my manuscript, about 4000 words long which was beautiful, showcasing my protagonist’s skill and her unique ability to manipulate her magic. It was some of my best pieces of writing.
Why am I talking of it in past tense?
Because I deleted that chapter. Why? It did not serve the plot. Though it did serve my character, I had already established, from multiple viewpoints that my protagonist was unique. Did I then need that chapter? No. I could feel those 4000 words slowing the pace of the story and so I copied the chapter and pressed delete.
We love our characters. We love our stories. But our plot is not the place to indulge ourselves, to reiterate something that doesn’t need reiterating.
These were a few other things I really wanted to talk about but didn’t find space in the other posts.
Hope you have enjoyed this series. You can check Write.Ok.Please to read the previous posts.
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