Thursday, March 7, 2013

Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Chapter 9, Breaking Up is Easy To Do

"It's like a woman with a dead baby inside her."
Got your attention, didn't I?

Before I write about the next chapter in Self Editing for Fiction Writers, I HAD to share this metaphor. It is a pericope in the book  and when I read it, I was so stunned, I knew I had to include it when I blogged tonight. In fact, the skin on my forearms turned to goose flesh. I put the book down and just sat there for about ten minutes, pondering the depths.

The character who speaks the metaphor is a man who is losing his faith in God. It if from Fredrick Buechner's Treasure Hunt. It reads: "You don't know how it feels to say things you don't believe any more. It's like a woman with a dead baby inside her."

I am terrible at metaphors. I struggle with them and as a result, I probably do not use them often enough nor effectively. If anyone out there know of a good website or book on how to write and use metaphors, please leave me a comment. I could use the help.
In my book, this metaphor is the best I have ever read.
For those who are just now finding my blog (and thanks to those from the Kindle Community who faithfully follow) I have been 'reviewing' Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. It is quite a remarkable book and I have learned much. You can surf my blog to find the previous eight chapters (and some worthless stuff as well).

What follows are the highlights that caught my eye in Chapter 8. I do not want to put too much of the book here, because I really think every aspiring writer should have this book right next to their computer or Royal typewriter. So, if the highlights do to make sense, buy the book. It's that simple. My thoughts are in parenthesis. Enjoy.
Another editing technique produces the dramatic difference between the two versions (two pericopes precede this highlight): the first is a single, page long paragraph; the second has been broken up into more manageable chunks. The second version has white space.

Whether it's because readers feel lectured to, or because they feel crowded, or simply because some white space on the page is visually inviting, lengthy unbroken chunks of written material are off-putting.
Paragraphing frequently can also add tension to a scene.

A novel that is basically a page-turner beginning to end is more likely to leave its readers feeling weary-and manipulated-than satisfied.

The leisurely and soft-edged tone to the details help lull the reader into a relaxed moment- to a purpose, since we are being set up.

Be on the lookout for places where your characters make little speeches to one another. In formal dialogue, characters often string together four or five complete, well-formed sentences. In real life, few of us get that far without interruptions. (I detest be interrupted when I am speaking! But it is true. Homework assignment: During the day tomorrow, count how many times you are interrupted when you are speaking AND count how many times you interrupt someone).

If the scene or chapter remains steady while the tension of the story varies considerably, you are passing up the chance to reinforce the tension your story depends on. You are failing to use one of the simplest of storytelling tools.

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