Monday, February 24, 2014

Writing for Tears - The Onion Approach

Sorry, this post is not about The Onion (link)--the satirical newspaper. Instead, I was thinking this morning about craft and writing and my own evolution as a writer.

Coming from a journalism background, my biggest challenge as a novelist was slowing down. I'd been trained to get to the point fast. Give the most important point first. Don't bury the lede! No extraneous details, no side-trips into smells or tastes...

I know. Some feature writers flower their prose a bit, and tempering that is part of the craft of feature writing, but for the most part, news reporting is bare bones. Just the facts, ma'am.

Then I started writing books, and I was all, "This person has to get from Point A to Point B to Resolution C after Shocking Revelation D."

I'd sit down and pound it all out, and while it was entertaining, my early readers were all, "I've got a whiplash this happened so fast!"

I wasn't giving anybody time to think or feel about what was happening, to process. I wasn't peeling back the layers slow enough. I wasn't giving my readers time to cry. (Get the onion part now? I made that up, fyi.)

I have some writer friends with the exact opposite problem. They write too many words, and their biggest task is going back and cut cut cutting all the fat so they're  not boring you to death or filling your head with a lot of unnecessary details.

Going on Year 4 as an author, my second as a full-time novelist, my first drafts still often come out with "fast patches"--parts that need to slow down to provide the full emotional effect.

I'm still learning to think like a symphony conductor. Have the Big Fast Loud part followed by a quiet, thoughtful spot.

The good news is now when I read back through that first draft, I'm much better at spotting these places and adding thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, etc., to spread out the moment.

I think The Truth About Letting Go was the first time I truly felt satisfied I'd mastered the process. To this day, I can't read Chapter 17 without crying... but that's another story.

I'm headed back into the cave, reader-friends! Just popping out to say Hi! and share my thoughts.

Remember to check out IndieReCon starting tomorrow! (link) It's a FREE online writers conference filled with tons of useful information about business, craft, working with readers, marketing, etc.

And since last week I posted the Valentine's Day "Love Notes" for the Dragonfly series, this week, I'll post the ones for the "Truth" books.


The Truth About Faking

And talk about layers~

The Truth About Letting Go

Have a super week, reader-friends! Love ya~


Old Kitty said...

Awwww "spreading the moment"! I like that phrase!!And it's something I must learn as I get most impatient not just with writing but with life in general and just want to rush things!! I must stop to smell the flowers too!

Glad you popped out of your cave to share these juicy snippets too! Take care

Barbara Watson said...

It's hard to over come that journalism background, I bet, and feed the story slower. But also, for me, it's easier to enhance the bare bones than cut the fat.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Everyday is a learning experience for me as a writer and author. Good Post.

LTM said...

That is so true, Cathrina! Good luck with your writing! Thank you~ <3

Jenni said...

Great post! I'm another one who's still learning how to slow down. I loved your symphony analogy.

LTM said...

Thanks so much, Jenni! I'm kind of a musical person, so that helped me "see" what I needed to do. Thanks or stopping by~ :) <3