test post 2
Posted: 12 Oct 2014 10:00 PM PDT
by Jemi Fraser
Last month, my post talked about 5 Tips to Trim Your Writing. This month, I’m tackling the opposite. With my current rewrite, I attempted to plot (kaboom!) and ended up with a shorter story than I expected (15k shorter).
So, now I’m focusing on how to flesh out a story without padding it. Some of the things I’ve discovered:
Fleshing it Out Tip #1 — Emotions
This one I’m having a blast with. I write contemporary romance, so it’s all about the emotion, but I think that’s true for most stories. It’s the emotions that pull me in and make me gobble up those pages, no matter what the genre is.
Delving into the character’s emotions helps the reader connect and makes the writing much more interesting. For me, plot is obviously important, but it’s how the characters respond to the plot that intrigues me. So, show that!
Fleshing it Out Tip #2 — Show, Don’t Tell
Another fun one, and very connected to #1. Telling removes the emotion. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said, “Don’t tell me the old lady screamed, bring her on stage and let her scream”? Looking for those telling words/sentences in the draft helps me find places I can strengthen my story and make it longer/more compelling at the same time.
Fleshing it Out Tip #3 — Dialogue
Connected to #2! I love dialogue and tend to include a lot of it in my writing naturally, but there are still places I find where I can have my characters really showing…by telling. Dialogue infuses the story with life and lets the readers hear your characters talking. It also gives the reader a visual–and mental–break from narration, thus increasing the pace of your story.
Fleshing it Out Tip #4 — Description
Blech. I’m not an especially visual person or writer. My descriptions tend to be focused around the emotions of the characters. And I’m not a fan of reading paragraphs of description either, so I tread very, very carefully when I do this.
For people, I sprinkle in the description. A mention of hair colour by another character here, a comment about height there. Nothing obvious, certainly no looking in the mirror and offering up a self-evaluation. For example, rather than saying my character is short, I’ll have her drag a chair over to reach something off a high shelf.
For places, I don’t mind stringing a sentence or two together to anchor the reader in the setting, especially when it’s a new place. I try to focus on what the character would notice, and only on what is relevant to the story.
I’d rather leave most description up to my readers, but I’m learning I need to include those anchors and let the readers fill in the rest.
Fleshing it Out Tip #5 — Character Arcs
This one is more complex than the first four. Here, I’m looking for the pace of how my characters are growing. I want them to slowly learn to change, have strategically placed AHA! moments, and obstacles tossed in their paths to have them second guessing their realizations. This is another instance where I find Scrivener invaluable. I can colour code, or use the side bar, or make another file to put side by side in order to track the arcs. Then I can spot where the arc needs some help, tweak a scene here, add a scene there, throw in another obstacle, or three.
There are many more ways to flesh out a story (adding in a subplot and looking for plot holes to fill in come to mind), but these are the 5 I’m working with. Any tips to add? Do you like fleshing it out or do you prefer to trim?
If you’d like see a toxic mix of these three – please come along to the Toastmasters Division K Humorous and Table Topics Contest at a terrific venue, details as below-
1 Churchill Place
London E14 58P
Date: Tues 21st Oct
Functionaries and contestants to arrive by 6.30pm for the briefings, with a view to start the contest by 7:15pm.
Place guaranteed if you register by 15th Oct.
The first official Toastmasters meeting was held in October 1924 in Santa Ana, California. Why not celebrate the organization’s milestone with a themed club meeting devoted to Toastmasters’ history? Check out the 90th Anniversary http://www.toastmasters.org/90thanniversary webpage for fun resources to use throughout the anniversary year.
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Speech Contest Rulebook Update
New versions of the Speech Contest Rulebook will now coincide with the Toastmasters program year. The next version goes into effect July 1, 2015, and the 2014 version is valid until then. The rulebook will be included in the May club officer mailing; clubs will not receive one in October, as was done previously.
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New Accredited Speaker
Congratulations Barbara Khozam of Escondido, California, for achieving the Accredited Speaker designation at the International Convention in August. Accredited Speaker is an elite designation signifying mastery of professional speaking techniques. Applications for the 2015 program will be accepted between January 1 and February 1.
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We do learn and practice, speaking and answering and thinking on our feet.
We do it to go then out and use it!
Our member, now for six years, Julie Kertesz, proved she did use the skills that can be learned and practiced in our Toastmasters meeting.
Going from speech to speech, table topics to table topics, then out from storytelling live to standup comedy, she landed now up live on BBC1’s The One Show, and was not disturbed by all the different modifications they did and not only performed her minute of gig with confidence, but succeeded to add an impromptu introduction to it and even found a new true line that made all laugh, including the presenter.