Pacing is difficult for a lot of authors to get just right. Even when they do get it just right (for the reader) they often still worry about it. They worry whether their pacing in a given story or scene is too fast or too slow. They worry that if they show the thoughts and feelings of the characters they will slow the pace and the story will drag. There is some legitimacy to these concerns. One can have a story in which the pace drags or a story in which things happen quickly and yet the reader isn’t really vested in the outcome.
Yellow Highlighter Classes are month-long classes which meet online in a private blog space three days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.) The classes are completely hands on with participants posting excerpts from their works in progress and me going over them, marking them up, offering corrections and suggestions in the same way that I mark up manuscripts I edit for publication. The feedback isn’t specific to just one area, like emotion, sexual tension or plot points. Instead, the markup offered on a single day of the class might highlight weaknesses of many types and might offer suggestions for strengthening a variety of problem areas. A single markup on a single day of the class might address a point of view problem, the need for a beat of silence to break up a line of dialogue, or the news that a given scene really slows the pace and needs to be trimmed, moved or discarded.
You shouldn’t have to “remind” your reader of your character’s conflict at all. A conflict which is strong enough to support the story should be there in the character’s psyche, in his world coloring most everything he thinks, says, and does to some degree. It’s not like the character can ever really forget about the conflict. It’s there in the background weighing on him even when he’s trying to focus on other things.
Yellow Highlighter Classes are designed to offer authors at all levels help in strengthening their manuscripts. Check out what others are saying at the new testimonials page…and then register for the August 2017 Yellow Highlighter Class. Hurry! Seats are limited and sell out quickly.
One of the common problems I see with how authors show emotion in their manuscripts is that they confuse the guidelines for showing viewpoint characters’ emotions with the guidelines for showing non-viewpoint characters’ emotions. This is important because how we show emotion in writing depends a great deal upon whose emotion we’re showing.
The things we wrote in the book planning binder defines a character who has certain parameters. But when you put her in motion…make her take actions, and then put other people in the scene and make her react to the actions that they take you begin to learn more about her. She’s still mousy haired. She still prefers cats to people. She still doesn’t feel worthy of participating in society, of having friends. But now you move one step deeper. How does someone who prefers cats to people, who doesn’t feel worthy of participating in society, of having friends, react when she is face to face with someone who needs her help? What motivates that action? What thought? What feeling? What belief? Showing this on the page, by showing her specific mental or emotional experience allows the full essence of who she is at the deepest level to come through and be fully visible and fully understandable to the reader.
If you’ve been tempted to try a Yellow Highlighter Class check out what other participants are saying and register for the July 2017 class now.
Though it seems like June of 2017 is a long ways off it is just around the corner and will be here before we are ready. With that in mind, it’s time to register for the June 2017 Yellow Highlighter Class.
I’ve been teaching a class for OIRW about deep point of view during November. We’re now nearing the end of the class and I’m going over excerpts from participants’ works in progress as part of the class. One of the things that has come up in going over the excerpts is how to best handle memories in fictional writing, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about that for this blog post.
Yellow Highlighter Classes are designed to offer authors at every level hands on help perfecting and strengthening their manuscripts. Unlike other classes, Yellow Highlighter Classes are hands on and work with each participant’s own manuscript, strengthening the manuscripts weak points and fixing problem points.
Unlike subject focused classes, like how to write emotion, or how to write sexual tension, where you take a class, learn what you can and move to the next class, Yellow Highlighter classes start where you are and you grow through each post, each markup.
Those of us who have been writing for any length of time have been warned of the folly of including too much backstory at the opening of the story…and indeed this is good advice. But in this particular Yellow Highlighter Class my suggestions regarding backstory were mostly advising participants to include more backstory or more detail to explain the character’s current situation. What’s with this? It seems totally at odds with the “Thou Shalt Not Backstory Dump” that we’ve all been taught and internalized…. So…let’s take a step back and talk about backstory and see if we can make some sense of it.
Rather than being focused around a given topic (like emotion, plotting, sexual tension, and so on) the classes are focused on giving feedback on actual works in progress that participants post. The feedback isn’t specific to just one area, like emotion, sexual tension or plot points. Instead, the markup highlights weaknesses of many types and offers suggestions for strengthening problem areas. A single markup may address a point of view problem–the need for a beat of silence to break up a line of dialogue–suggestions to strengthen emotional and sexual tension–suggestions to strengthen character motivation–an order problem–miscellaneous verb tense issues–and sentence structuring changes to make the sentence stronger or the flow smoother.