Sunday, September 16, 2007

Writing Lessons From a Rainy Sunday

Sunday produces other things in this house except watching Peyton Manning embarrass the 'Defense of the Week.' This morning I woke up early enough to go running in the rain and write a bit more of my current novel attempt. I had a scene in mind and it had gotten to the point where I felt I could write it. The scene involves a new character that I want to add to the story, a bad guy that will be the main character's foil, and I had envisioned an extended conversation with a goodly amount of detail. What happened was something different. This lesson goes along the lines of previous ones where I point out that you should say what you need to say and then shut up. I got to the halfway point of the planned conversation and realized that it was an excellent stopping point. (I was also running out of time before the kids woke up.) The rest of what was said could remain unsaid. This creates more suspense as the reader tries to figure out what might happen next. I know how the scene went but the reader doesn't have to until later.

So next time you're writing, try cutting a scene in half and see what you're left with. It might work for you as well.



Excellent tactic. I use it myself, but usually only after I realize I'm rambling!

Actually, several years ago, a poet passed on that simple lesson. We were talking about how poetry is, by its very nature, compressed, but how we writers like to write, and thus we ruin a good poem by saying too much -- or by trying to explain what we've just written.

Therefore, this poet said, we need to fold the bottom of the page, and hide the last line or the last stanza, and see if the poem is not made stronger in brevity.

You know what? It works for prose, too!

Scriptorius Rex said...

You're right, we could probably just keep working backward until the scene doesn't feel complete.

Horatio said...

who on earth is Peyton Manning and what on earth is 'Defence of the Week'?

What is the link with Sunday?

And finally, does anyone give a monkey's?

Scriptorius Rex said...

Horace, it's an American thing.

Danette Haworth said...


Yes, that kind of thing has happened during my writing as well, and it takes you by surprise, doesn't it? I guess I'd call that moment an epiphany!