Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 272 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis






It's another one of those traps we lead ourselves right into. We have a story in mind. Maybe we get down a first draft. But we're not sure if we're being clear enough. So, if you'll pardon this, we front load it with too much back story.
You've seen it and you've more than likely done it. We set the scene, establish the time, give long-winded descriptions of characters, and eventually start to make all this try to do something. Again, never, ever do this. Not once or again. If you've got all that CRAP in the first few paragraphs, you're already losing today's readers. They have been raised on television, high dollar, special effects cinema, and video games. MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!
Here's an example from a short story I'm in the process of re-writing for the 8th time. (No, I'm not exaggerating.):
     The door rattled as she banged on it. Her voice had the screech of an old phonograph needle skidding across a record with alto undertones. "Mr Grillo? Francis! I know you're in there. I saw you come in last night. Open up."
     There was no avoiding it. I opened the door and looked at Rhonda, her feminized bulk taking up better than half the narrow hall. Almost six foot tall without the high heels, her thick wrists and forearms, with their mat of black hair, gave away the fact that her given name was really Ronald.
     "Jesus, Ron. Can you maybe reduce the volume just a little? It was a rough night."
     "Look, Sweetie, that's no never mind to me. What I want to know is have you got the rent?"
With that, the tone is set. The time of day is narrowed down. Characters are introduced and, by giving a hint as to financial difficulties, we have already established a bit of a conflict. In other words, we're in the action.
If there's a need for further back story or description, I can do it in the action and dialogue as I go. My main purpose is to get the reader in there. Build tension and conflict, and keep the story moving.
The faster a story takes off, the better the chance the readers will stay with you. So, the next time you're tempted to write a five hundred page biography to let us know who the main character in your twelve page short story is - DON'T! Ask yourself what the audience really needs to know to understand the thing and give them just that.
Another helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write me in fast.
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Dane F. Baylis

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