I wrote a story a while back about a couple going through the break-up of their marriage. I wanted dialogue to tell most of the tale rather than narrative.
As I write the characters into existence I felt as though I knew them and could almost feel what they were going through. It gave me the confidence to write strong dialogue because I just knew what they would be saying to each other.
I could feel what they were feeling; the hesitation in parting, the longing for each other and what they once had, the distance that had grown around them. This gave me the confidence to describe their internal world in ways that showed you, through their actions and body language, what was going on rather than telling you. It makes it more interesting to the reader to get to know your characters themselves. This is how we do it in real life; we all make judgements about people without being told about them by someone else.
Gollum famously spoke these words in Lord of the Rings while looking for the One Ring, which Bilbo – and then Frodo – carried with him.
The ring gave powers to the wearer and spoke volumes about the person who carried it. It was one of the defining things about the characters and told of their quest as well as their character and motives.
Do you have nuts?
I saw this sign outside a restaurant recently:
“Please advise us if you have nuts and other allergies”.
At first glance they’re talking about two distinctly separate subjects: nuts and allergies. As if they’re expecting you to take the nuts with you to the restaurant and tell them you’ve got them.
Are you allergic to anything?
I suppose it is obvious that this sign should have read: Continue reading
There is a book entitled, ‘The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, which teaches you to see in a different way.
Where drawing is concerned we often draw what we think we see (left brain) rather than what we can actually see (right brain).
For example, one of the exercises asks you to draw the spaces around and between the object you want to draw (negative space) rather than trying to draw the thing itself.
An old cloak
You find an old cloak in your grandma’s wardrobe (or closet) that appears to be made out of shadows.
It is moving in a gentle unseen breeze.
It’s probably a given that story has the power to bring about change in the reader.
I’ve already discussed learning and empathy in a previous post, but it has long been recognised that reading good literature encourages self-reflection and change.
In an article from the New York Times: Continue reading
How observant are you?
Do you register faint changes in facial expressions? Do you notice the body language as one person passes something to another? Do you recognise the real meaning in people’s tone of voice?
These are all elements you can write into your story to make the characters, and what they do, more believable.
People watching is a great way to build up a resource to draw on.
It’s not just readers who benefit from a good story.
We writers can too apparently.
There is a fascinating article on the New York Times Blog about research carried out on people through expressive writing (or life-story writing).
It may sound like self-help nonsense, but research suggests the effects are real.