Thursday, February 05, 2009

4th Mistake: Writing Outside the Plot

Fourth Mistakes–Writing Outside the Plot

Make every word, sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter count. Great storytellers never intrude with an emotional aside during the tale. Many new authors explode all over their first book with everything they’ve ever daydreamed, including the kitchen sink. Curbing that need to divulge all the very best of what they’ve fantasized writing is often a frustrating task. There is a simple way to choose what is and isn’t important to convey the story.

The work isn’t about the entire lives of these characters, it’s central to the one story you’re relating, the one moment that these characters are living. Imagine if Romeo and Juliet began when the two families fell out of favor with each other. There obviously would be ample room to include all of the story elements Shakespeare loved, but would it have been such a compelling tale? Romeo and Juliet is solely a story of tragic love. Decide what your story is solely about and set aside any elements that don’t directly connect to this theme for another work.

How is this connected to writing with emotional depth? Contrast is highly important to reaching emotional depth. If there are continuous tragedies, overwhelming grief and pain, without the joys of triumph, without the relief of humor, the story becomes so darkly focused the reader begins to wonder if the protagonists have any redeeming value, if they’re unable to feel happiness or even fight for their own success. Choose your obstacles wisely–they must directly reflect both plot and personal stakes in order to achieve empathy with the reader.

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