A blog about writing and all things story…
The parallel of what’s happening in the editing of my novel and what’s happening in my real life never ceases to entertain me. For example, after receiving an edit on my first 100 pages (from brother and master storyteller, Clark Kohanek),
|Clark; Mr. ‘What’s the meaning?’|
and learning that parts of my story needed
to be approached in a different way to make
them work, and many other story constructs
that needed to be remodeled, my husband
decided it was time to remodel the kitchen.
I know, why are these two issues linked in
the same sentence, right? Because…
I’ve begged for this remodel for many years, and now it’s happening. That’s the good part. The bad part is; I’m trying to write in the middle of chaos. It looks like we’ve just moved in when we’ve lived her for 12 years.
I’ve wanted and needed an edit – somebody else’s eyes on my manuscript (because I no longer can make out the trees through the forests. Or is forest through the trees? Whatever. You get it) for a good while now. I finally got one – so happy!!!! for about 30 seconds.
It was great to hear, “Nice writing. Great story.” And so on with the flattery. It was buffer so I wouldn’t pass out from the shock of what needed to be done to make the story work, sing, resonate, stand out, sparkle. To stay with the tree analogy (even if I did goof it up earlier – so many cliches, so little time!) apparently I couldn’t see the trees through the forest because they all looked alike (in other words,it was boring). Ouch!
So, it took a few weeks to let the info settle in my bones. Then I stared at my manuscript for a good long time. Numb.
Clark said the story needed to be approached from a different angle. That it needed the light shown on certain details from an unexpected source to make those details or important back story more interesting, that I needed to give a key player more of a voice, and so much more.
I finally started writing. Not just writing, but creating trees that stood out from that murky forest (okay, done with the trees now – that was a bad one). I used his advice and set up a new way to tell the story, to deliver the information that makes the story really stand out. I can’t tell you right now what those storytelling devices are, but I will when my book is published. (I know, hopeful optimism)
Okay, the link to our remodel;
|It’s not attractive.|
at the same time that I’m knocking
down walls in my story, creating a
new view and opening things up so
they’re more accessible to readers,
I’m cutting (with a sawzall,mind you) through the kitchen wall that I’ve hated for over a decade and blowing a hole through the dining room so we’ll have a wide open floor plan that flows and looks different, unique for this style house and surprises people when they come through the door. I realized this is exactly what I’m doing in my story: I’m not tearing down the house, I’m just remodeling. It’s the same story, characters and foundation it’s just a better view, something to wow people when they come inside.
|Breaking through: Much better view!|
What experience do you want your readers to have? Are there different ways to deliver your narrative? For example in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Loved it!) the family connections were many, and so they provided a helpful chart. The timeline was apparent because it was right at the header of lumped chapters, September 9 – December 20th. Or an all time favorite of mine, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (FGT) by Fannie Flagg where she used the’ Weem’s Weekly – Whistle Stop, Alabama Newsletter’ to set the tone and give a real sense of the times (1920’s), what was going on in the community, culture, social mores and so on. FGT is a story that hops all over the place (back & forth in time, several locations, several players) but never leaves the reader wondering where they are in the story. These storytelling devices keep readers engaged, lessen confusion and deliver reams of info in a few short sentences.
Are there devices you can use to deliver back story or other narrative elements that may be more entertaining? What other books have you read that used unique ways to deliver information? Learn from the masters. That’s all I’m sayin’.
I need to start up my table saw now and start cutting wood for shelves. Peace out.
Author, Editor, Speaker, Storytelling Coach, Writing Instructor, and Director of The Outlaw's Journey Prison Writing Project
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