View Full Version : spies across the street.

August 2nd, 2016, 01:49 AM

Jay Greenstein
August 2nd, 2016, 02:40 AM
I saw the boy from across the street, walking towards me. I got nervous, and my feet started acting funny, and before I know it Im on the ground. I look around and saw the boy looking at me with a strange look, as if he felt sorry for me. Just to make it more awkward I stood up and ran home. I reached my house climbed the stairs to my room and collapsed face first on to my bed.Here's where your story begins. So start with story, not history. Everything you say before this can be given as part of story. Instead of saying, "the boy from across the street say "the new boy from across the street. Have the character note his dress, then, as being town clothing. That way, we learn the same thing, at the spot where we need the information, and it comes as both context and enrichment to a necessary line.

And don't tell the story. Readers aren't interested in your words because the "voice" they hear has not a trace of the emotion you would place in it. They don't want to hear details like, "I got nervous, and my feet started acting funny," because that's a synopsis. Why did this person get nervous? If we don't know that, we have no reason to care. What does feet acting funny mean? And what does she think about that happening? There, in her struggle to control her situation, is where your story lies, not the plot details. Again, without knowing what the events mean to her, and how they shape her response, the reader hasn't the context you do when you read.

The problem is that our intent doesn't make it to the page. Only our words do. So to a reader they mean what their own background and education suggest—unless you use the tricks of the fiction writer to make them know the scene as your protagonist does.

It's not a matter of good or bad writing, or talent. It's that writing fiction for the page is a tough job because the medium has limitations that must be taken into account. But those limitations aren't mentioned in our schooling because we're being trained to write nonfiction, not fiction, to make us ready to learn a profession or trade. Reports, essays, and letter writing are skills we must master to make ourselves useful to employers. Fiction writing is a profession we must master because we want to. So some time spent digging out the special knowledge and tricks-of-the-trade writers need would be a wise investment of your time, and make the job a lot easier. Hit your local library system's fiction writing section and chew up a few books. And as always, my suggestion is to look for the names, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover. As I see it, they're pure gold.

Hang in there, and keep on writing.

Saul Bee
August 7th, 2016, 11:12 PM
Jay thanks for the advice you gave jtgrall, very helpful and just the kind of thing I am looking for. I never thought in terms of the limitation o fthe medium but I can see it makes sense.