Monday, September 10, 2018

Telling Your Story

Frame Designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany c. 1905 - 1920 from the Metropolitan Museum's art in the public domain 

Dear Reader:
I'm going to make some assumptions about you. 1. You've had at least one argument in your life. 2. After that argument, you and the other person disagreed about how the argument went.
True?
I thought so. Most of us have been in that situation more times than we want to admit.

How can you avoid this happening in the world you create on the page? It is your job to craft sentences, plot and tone that lead the reader through the same journey you intended, not the one that she set out to have. Sure, every reader will enter your piece with her own experiences and biases, but you want to do your best to make your writing as clear as possible.

Let's say your character is sick, dropped her car off for service, went to the pharmacy, and then waited for a ride home in the rain. You might say that this character is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Or, maybe instead of simply stating what happened, you can add in some texture that makes it clear the character is happy she has a job to pay for her car service and medicine, not to mention is excited to try out her new raincoat. Adding more details will help to clarify the character's mindset and experience, which is information that teaches the reader more about the character and the piece's overall plot.

This isn't just a "cup half-empty" discussion, but a scene-setting exercise. You can use tone and description to present a series of events (the plot) in a number of ways. It is all about how you frame the events themselves.


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