Episode 72: It's In The Details

In this episode we listen as Abby channels Jennie to use her writing powers for...good? Or at least, channels them in the process of house-selling! Writing skills are applicable to pretty much all aspects of life and you should bring them out as necessary, and Abby uses hers to write a response to a letter she got from a prospective buyer. 

Mel also unleashes the dark recesses of her brain and kills off a (sort of?) beloved character. RIP Harrison, he of the khaki pants. Jennie compared his ride to a roller-coaster. "It builds and builds and then wheee, hands up, here we go!" We delve into the nitty gritty of Mel's chapter - she got the big picture stuff down but there were a lot of little things that need attention. We also go over some logistical details in the background - character motivations and decisions aren't ringing true, and Mel needs to go over it again to make sure everything makes sense. The readers need to know why her characters are doing what they're doing in order to move the story forward. 

One thing we cover is the use of "muttering" - Mel uses it a lot in this chapter. SO MUCH! Too much. But it's not because she can't find the right word - it's because she's using "muttering" as shorthand. You know what it means, but the reader has no idea. 

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"This is a huge mistake people make, and it's not a thesaurus problem. If you want to convey something about the way people are talking to each other - SAY IT! It's kind of passive aggressive, for example, for a character to speak too softly to hear, or to turn their head away so the other person can't hear them talking. If it's important, put it in there - if it's not, get it out. If the way they're talking to each other doesn't serve the story, don't put it in there. I think you use it as shorthand sometimes." - Jennie Nash 

When you find yourself short-handing your writing like this, it's totally fine to go back and fix things after your first draft. The important thing is to not do it so much that you're only working halfway and find yourself with a first draft where the big stuff, the meaning and the why, isn't there. 

Lastly, Jennie brings attention to something else Mel keeps doing - saying her protagonist "stood there wordlessly"  "had nothing to say", etc etc. We want our protagonist to speak, but if she can't, we need to know why. We need to know what's going on inside, so much that she cannot speak, and we need to see our protagonist putting things together, making decisions, making judgments. 

"One of the reasons you want good feedback on your work is because it's hard to see your own habits. It ultimately makes for a multi-layered, much richer story." - Jennie Nash

In the meantime, I did promise in the intro a link to the revision class that starts December 8th. And here it is!

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