Sunday, January 20, 2013

Writing Tip #16

Blogging's been kind of slow lately. I think it's some combination of being busy looking for a new job, playing too much Skyrim, and having some old health issues act up again. I'm trying to get back into writing some stories and finishing a book, so I'm starting off with a new writing tip.

Tip #16: Privacy

I just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It was one of the best books I've ever read, and certainly quite a bit different than other things I've read. One thing Gaiman did a lot differently than other authors I typically read was giving the characters little to no privacy.

As the author of your own work, you decide how much readers see of your character. You can cut out the parts where they're sitting in a room doing nothing, reading an old book, using the bathroom, or being intimate with loved ones. You have the power to leave your character alone during those times or let the reader watch every detail.

One key thing, I believe, is to be consistent and know where your lines are drawn. If you write about your character's restroom trips, for instance, you're probably generally going into very minute detail. In a realistic, vividly described world, it makes it even more real. Otherwise, why would we care? If you only wrote about it once in a 300 page book, why was that one time so significant? The more you do it, the more a part of the realness it becomes, if that's what you're going for. And if writing about that is okay, what do you feel the need to omit or glaze over? Perhaps nothing, if you write for a mature enough audience.

I think writing the private moments of our characters' lives is an exercise we could all stand to do. Even if all of it gets cut out of the finished product, it can get the writer closer to the characters and really force us to analyze our creations as people, rather than a set of words on a page.