05-14-2007 01:39 PM
In Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, read "Seeing Your Way to Better Stories" by Stanley Schmidt.
What do you think of Schmidt's ideas for making stories come alive?
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05-19-2007 11:04 AM
We've all heard the dictum, "show, don't tell," before. Schmidt does an excellent job of telling us how, by having us visualize that we are writing a play rather than a story or novel. In a play, the writer is extremely limited in what he or she can tell, so everything moves through dialogue and character actions.
Schmidt doesn't stop there. 'See through the eyes of your characters' is another piece of excellent advice. Not just the sympathetic viewpoint character you might admire or be like, but the lesser characters and antagonists. His point is that your characters will be puppets, acting according to your convenience, if you don't see through their eyes and understand their interests and motivations for how they act.
Another important tip is not to switch your viewpoint character around unless you have a good reason for it. This minimizes confusion.
Yet another good tip is to avoid the overuse of adjectives and adverbs in describing characters' actions. Let the drama of the actions speak for themselves.
Finally, he addresses good settings by encouraging writers to describe evoking at least three of the five senses. Use spare but descriptive words for this, words that evoke familiar images.
Great article, well worth reading.