I’ve talked here about pacing before, but that was about the pace of the story arc over the entire book. Today I’d like to get a little more specific about writing for pace in a particular sequence of events in a story, and also about emphasis.
Writing is nothing more than stringing together a bunch of words: verbs, nouns, pronouns, conjunctions. But when we are writing, our task is more than simply providing information to our readers. In fiction, especially, it’s all about recording and eliciting emotion. Giving our readers a sense of the timing of the action is a great way to support that emotion.
Let’s say my character, Hector Human, is running from an unknown pursuant down a dark street. The chaser is dangerous, deadly even — a predator. Hector is running for his life, even though he doesn’t understand why. He only understands the danger. How might we convey that? Continue reading “Writing for Timing and Emphasis”
Finding something that inspires you to write can be easy or difficult. It can come screaming out of left field like a foul ball, or worse, hit you at the most awkward of times like driving the car. My inspiration tends to pick awful times to invade my brain. It’s usually in the middle of the night. Yes, I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement. We’ve all lost a lot of sleep in this profession.
I admit, I don’t read enough. And I know I should. Shame on me! I’ve always been afraid that if I read, that somehow I’d subconsciously copy the author. Maybe not exactly, but paraphrase someone out there. This is probably a silly fear. Writers are supposed to be inspired by the works of others. But my fear has persisted, and I knew I needed to conquer it. Continue reading “Getting Inspired by… Ray Bradbury”
by Mark Hamner
William Faulkner famously said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” He was, of course, talking about having the guts to eliminate superfluous prose, chapters, etc. from your work. However, as I was completing my third book, Cinder’s Reach, I had the task of killing one of my darlings in a very different way. As a caution, I should note that everything from this point on should be considered a spoiler for those who are considering reading The Echo Chronicles.
My Echo Chronicles series revolves around four central characters: Trin, the protagonist, Cipher, his best friend, Creed, the hothead, and Dalton, the nice guy. As I progressed through the books in the series, it became clear, both in my own mind and from my conversations with others, that one of my characters had become the clear favorite. To my surprise, that character wasn’t Trin; it was Cipher. Something about the fact that she never stopped trying to help others despite the fact that she was, herself, fairly messed up, really drew people to her. Trin was leaning on her more and more, and she was constantly putting her own life on the line for him and the rest of her friends. The world inhabited by my characters is extremely volatile and dangerous. Early on the thought struck me that it wouldn’t be entirely realistic for my characters to continue getting into dire situation after dire situation only to come out relatively unscathed. Continue reading “Killing Your Darlings: The Death of a Central Character”
I’m deathly afraid of heights. Going out on the observation platform on the Space Needle in Seattle, I have to plaster myself to the back wall of the central structure and dig my fingernails into the wall when the wind blows. At the Grand Canyon, I have to stay at least six feet back from the low walls that line the trails; none of this blithe waltzing over to the edge and looking down for me.
So how did I end up on a tightrope?
I’ve discovered that writing is very much like walking a tightrope, placing the feet carefully on the rope itself, hefting a balance beam and making very small corrections to the left or right as necessary. But what, exactly, are we balancing? Continue reading “A Question of Balance”