Thursday, 17 September 2009

13 Writing Tips

Just read Fight Club author Chuck Palaniuk's excellent 13 Writing Tips blog post, and had to pass it on. Tip #1 is excellent advice - the number of times I've procrastinated then wondered why when after 10 mins I'm 'in the zone'... but tips #2 and #3 are the ones that are really resonating with me at the moment:

#2: Your audience is smarter than you imagine. Don't be afraid to experiment with story forms and time shifts. My personal theory is that younger readers distain most books - not because those readers are dumber than past readers, but because today's reader is smarter. Movies have made us very sophisticated about storytelling.

#3: Before you sit down to write a scene, mull it over in your mind and know the purpose of that scene. What earlier set-ups will this scene pay off? What will it set up for later scenes?

I'm editing book 2 at the moment, and there's quite a lot of discussion going on with my readers/editors as to whether certain elements of it are confusing. Basically there's a final surprise at the end, and it's quite an important one that explains a lot about the main character and the love of her life. However my editor wants me to cut it, as there are already a lot of twists, turns and other surprises in the book, and she thinks the foreshadowing/hints I'm dropping are going to confuse the reader - that when they read the hint their reaction will be "huh?", but that it won't be a big enough "huh?" that they'll remember the hint at the end of the book.

So do I follow Palahniuk's advice and trust that the reader is intelligent enough to both pick up on those hints and remember them at the end, when sense can be finally be made of them? My instinct is 'yes'. Maybe the solution isn't to cut the twist altogether, but to weave in more hints, so in the final pages the reader's reaction is "aha! now it all makes sense". I just need to find that fine line between the kind of gossamer foreshadowing that the reader brushes off like a cobweb strung between two lampposts, and sledgehammer foreshadowing that whacks the reader over the head until said twist becomes so obvious that they have a skull fracture.

Wish me luck.

1 comment:

Una McCormack said...

Good tips. I like #10:

Number Ten: Write the book you want to read.

And good luck!