Some of you might have heard me reference Michael Stackpole’s “21 Days to a Novel”. It has become part of a process that began with my local library. A little over a month ago, I began studying the craft of writing. Three books became three timely stepping stones for a man trying to bridge the river to publication. As I began making my way through them one by one, a single story from the past became a recurring them of discovery. In that way, it shoved its way into being the frontrunner for my first novel.
I had a lot of material at this point – new skills, new ideas, and the most fleshed out world of any I’m building. So I began writing! But it wasn’t coming together. Too many pieces remained unaccounted for. A couple weeks of frantic activity led me to the next stone hidden among the rapids. It was the “21 Days to a Novel” workshop, and immediately following the con I began working my existing story through the process seeking those missing pieces. Though it may be a little late, it seems like it might be a good idea to chronicle a little of my experience through this process. Accountability for me, and maybe a little insight for anyone interested in reading.
Today, is day 11, and if you read yesterday’s challenge, then you have a fairly good idea of what the day entailed. Day 10 was the day of talking heads, dialogue sans tags or description. Day 11 is the day of the watcher, that 3rd character watching this exchange out of earshot who is describing everything. How do you finish it out? Complete the scene by combining the dialogue and description.
So, how did it go for me? Well, thus far, it’s going well. I’m getting ready to bring the two together, though my own desire for the scene will remove the third character. This means I’m going to have to be attentive to P.O.V. considerations. I realized how tempting it is to use tags like “He pleaded”, when they aren’t really necessary. It was also an excellent challenge to explore description. But most of all, it helped me imagine the image of my characters. Just how do they act? How would they respond to that? How does that character show tension? I’ve always relied heavily on telling rather than showing, and I think some of this stems from a mind that doesn’t often imagine my stories visually. I rarely see the story happen. Itell myself the story. So, this exercise is helping me expand the experience of my own stories. Something that will also help me share those stories with others.
Not to mention, I’m enjoying what I’m seeing!
Note: For those interested in what those three books were.
- Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Ansen Dibell’s Plot
- Orson Scott Card’s Character and Viewpoint