How many times have you said, “The book was OK, but the movie was fantastic”?
Common knowledge says the difference is because movies have to trim the plot and cut scenes to fit the story into a shorter format. That’s part of the reason, but I think there’s another, subtler and far more important ingredient lost in the translation—the telling. With the exception of voice-overs, movies are all show and no tell. Books, on the other hand, have loads of telling. Continue reading
I thought this was going to be a simple research and post project. Oops—wrong again.
First off, let me give you some background. I have had a problem with getting through transitions and summaries in my writing. Not every time. But when my writing snags it’s usually not on character actions, reactions, scene description, dialogue or the step-by-step illustration of a scene. It’s on the narrative asides, the summaries and the stuff between scenes. What I think of as the non-scene writing. Continue reading
There are lots of places in a book where the reader needs some detail but not a lot:
- When one character has to explain something to another character that the reader already knows.
- When characters travel from one place to another, but nothing key to the plot happens during the journey itself.
- When significant time passes between the end of one scene and the beginning of the next.
- When transitioning from one important sequence within a scene to the next key sequence.
In those cases—and a lot of others—writers summarize. Maybe summarize isn’t the correct literary term, maybe it’s telling when showing would be a waste of time. Either way, it’s something I struggle with. Continue reading
As writers, we’re all aware of the importance of conflict, plot, character and voice, but I want to talk about another element that can ratchet up the intensity of a story: contrast.
In painting, contrast is an essential tool for adding punch and drama. Painters use dark and dull complementary colors to make the bright touches sing, and light to give the darkness depth. The same principle applies to stories. Continue reading
Every book on writing emphasizes that your characters, especially the protagonist, need to change over the course of the story. But change how? What constitutes character change?
In the past, that’s been a sticky one for me. Whether it was because writing books seemed to emphasize the importance of personality flaws that made characters annoying or immoral, or because I didn’t catch the subtleties, I interpreted the phrase character change to mean a change in the characters’ characters.