Writing Tip for Today: Everything I say on this blog is intended to help writers master skills. So when I say "don't drive to the story," I mean in your revisions. In draft, drive all you want, just know you'll probably need to look for a better jump-off spot. How, you ask, can writers get precious background info relayed if the character is doing something besides gazing out a window?
- Learn to Weave. I say this again and again. You can insert tiny packets of back story/motivation or other info in and around your character in action. By keep things separate (first I describe my character, problem, etc. Then I start the action), you're toying with your readers' attention span. Readers want to know as little as possible and they want to see action early.
- Narrative Chunks Are Like Icebergs. If you see that your opening involves pages and pages of narrative--stuff that isn't action--be willing to divert your novel's ship around that iceberg. Take it from me, long opening narratives are best left to Pulitzer Prizes winners.
- Don't Throw Your Character Under the Bus. You want to get your reader in sympathy with the character as early as possible. Ask yourself why you need a scene where the bus rolls into town, the car turns up a winding driveway to home or other static ideas. To keep your character away from interacting with your novel's players is to risk throwing that character under the bus.