Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Radio Script

I should've been born in the times of Annie or A Christmas Story, where people didn't have TV and used to just sit around and listen to stories acted out on the radio. Because when I write a story, I hear the conversations in my head and that's what gets written down! I have to go back through and add the details later, and descriptions are so much harder for me! I've heard the opposite, where some writers are great with descriptions and when it comes to the dialogue, they struggle.

If you find yourself in the same situation, my best advice for changing your radio script into a novel or short story, or a story in general is two things. Add setting, and add senses. Charlotte Cook, who edited my first 20 pages, suggested I tag the dialogue I had. So here is an example of tagging from a conversation I actually heard my characters have while going to sleep last night. (Another good idea is to keep a notebook by your bed because I always get inspiration as my mind is clearing itself at the end of the day!)

Talon is cleaning an animal. I haven't decided what yet. Fish? Probably. And Kiana is watching him.
"You do know that's disgusting."
"News flash, Kiana. This is what you look like on the inside."
"Yeah, but no one's going to eat me."
"That you know of."
"Is it possible? The rough-necked Talon can actually make a joke?"
He smeared blood on my hands.
"Is it possible the stubborn beauty can get her hands dirty?"
"Beauty, huh? Don't take it back now, I heard you say it. Come on, admit it, you think I'm beautiful."
"Beauty isn't real, Kiana. It fades like the seasons."
"Yeah, but while the summer's hot, it's hot, right?"

Okay. So even though it's just words, fill in the spaces between. Add the trees, since they're outdoors. And the weather. Is it cold? Scorching hot? Then character movements. Talon's probably holding a filet knife, and Kiana is twiddling with a long blade of grass. Does he smile at her? What is she thinking? You get the idea. Here's what tagging the dialogue would look like:

Talon's knife sliced through the fish's underbelly. I caught a glimpse of red and turned away, my stomach churning.
"You do know that's disgusting," I said.
"News flash, Kiana," said Talon. "This is what you look like on the inside."
How would he know? "Yeah, but no one's going to eat me."
"That you know of," Talon added under his breath.
My eyebrows rose. "Is it possible? The rough-necked Talon can actually make a joke?" A bird chirped in the tree above.
Talon slid a look at me, then darted out and smeared his bloodied hands on my fingers.
"Ew!" The slimy wet reeked. I went to wipe it on my jeans, but it would probably stain them. Yuck. What a low blow.
He hit me with one of his rare smiles. "Is it possible the stubborn beauty can get her hands dirty?"
The corner of my mouth lifted. "Beauty, huh?"
Talon opened his mouth, his brow hardened and then he stared at the silvery skin he was peeling from the pink fish meat within.
"Don't take it back now, I heard you say it." Was that color coming to his cheeks? "Come on, admit it. You think I'm beautiful."
He kept his head bent. "Beauty isn't a real thing, Kiana." His head lifted, his eyes were too serious, almost as if they were being forced. My smile stretched. "It fades like the seasons."
Nice try. "Yeah, but while the summer's hot, it's hot, right?"
His mouth twitched, hiding a smile.

Anywho, that's very rough, but it's just an example. Hope it helps!
Peace out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back story or BS :)

Back story, or BS, for those of you who don't know, is your character's history, how they came to be the way they are. And this blog entry is going to be somewhat short, because it's pretty simple.

What to put in, what to take out? Even though your character's BS may be an awesome story all in itself, if it doesn't move the main plot forward, take it out. This has been hard because there's a few scenes of Rowen, my mind writer :), explaining how he came to be the way he is to Soleil, the protagonist, and I've had to take them both out because, cool as they are (and they're also my husband's favorite parts), they had nothing to do with the main plot. So when the agents I pitched to raised their eyebrows when I told them how long my book was, and when they said I needed to cut about 20,000 words, I knew right where to start.

Don't start your story with BS. (lol). Your reader needs to develop a relationship with your characters first. They have to care about your character first, or they sure as pizza bombs won't care about your character's back story. Nancy Kress says that adding BS after your first chapter is a good way to start, but to hook your reader into your character's plight first.

Also, don't take a long chunk of space explaining something all at once. It's better, as Eric Witchey from Willamette Writers Conference said, to insert your back story as the story moves along, not all at once, but in pieces so you're not really telling your readers a character's bs, but the reader peices it together as they go along with the main plot. You don't want it to take over and stop the flow of your story, or you'll lose interest. As I did when Stephenie Meyer had those long chunks of her character's bs, especially the whole indian history stories they tell Bella at that thing she goes with Jacob to. Boh-ring! Skip!

Don't get me wrong, I really like the Twilight series. It's just that the more I'm learning about writing, the more I pay attention to things like that!

Anywho, that's all the BS I've got. Ha ha, okay bad joke. I was going to post one of my BS outtakes, but I thought better of it, since my stuff isn't technically copyrighted. Sorry.