Okay, before I forget. This weekend there a HUGE, massive author signing event happening at Barnes and Noble in Orem. (330 East 1300 South, University Crossings Plaza, Orem, UT) This event goes from 1-4 pm. AuthorPalooza = 40+ authors (including yours truly), lots of books, bookish-type fans and bloggers, bookmarks and treats. Come check us out and buy some autographed books. You know you want to.
The other day I was helping my daughter with her creative writing homework. She was having an issue with pronouns and split infinitives, and we ended up in a discussion about how stories have to be clear. You can’t just expect people to assume that the super hero is a good super hero unless you say so. Unless you tell the readers he is actually punching the villain as opposed to the elderly lady the SH is supposed to be saving.
This discussion included me asking her something like fifty questions about her 500 word story. What was the old lady doing while this happened? Where is this happening? Are there other people around? Witnesses maybe? What do the main characters look like? How do they feel? What are they thinking? What happens next? What are the consequences to the actions of the hero? The lady? The villain?
Her answers continued to be a baffled, “I don’t know.” To which I then replied, “Well, if you’re going to write a story about these people, you should.”
Or she would answer, “The old lady is running away, of course. Everyone knows that.”
I had to explain, “No, everyone doesn’t know that. Not unless you tell them. That’s your job as the storyteller.”
Short lesson of the day. Just because we—as writers or authors—see things happening a certain way in our heads, doesn’t mean our readers understand that vision. It’s up to us to paint a clear picture of setting, characterization, and plot. Good writing requires that the readers feel anchored and secure within the pages of your book.
So. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m nuts? Discuss.