Friday, 22 July 2011

Coastal Drama

A few weeks ago I walked my local section of the coast path. When I set out there was a thick sea fog, the lighthouse foghorn blaring through the mist. As I walked I watched the fog recede until all I could see was this eerie fog bank out at sea, ships skirting around its edge and the island peeking out from its shrouds.

I paused on the clifftop to admire the view. There was a lone tent pitched in a field and a boat moored up in the bay below.

Idyllic, I thought as I sipped my water.

And then I heard shouting.

I looked back down.

The people on the boat were all having a massive fight; voices raised and fists flying as they leaped at one another. Two bikini clad women jumped to their feet to try to break it up and I watched, fascinated, waiting for the splash.

It didn’t happen. One of them climbed onto the bow of the boat and sat in a sulk staring out to sea. The other started moving stuff around in the stern in grumpy silence.

A few other walkers had also stopped to watch and now we all headed on our way with knowing smiles to one another.

And I couldn’t help wondering what that had all been about. What was the story there?

I’ll probably never know but I’m sure I can make something up. Look out for those people in one of my stories.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Through Other Eyes

When we write we place ourselves into our character’s heads. We look at the world through their eyes.

Yet everyone sees the world very differently. Some people see challenge and adventure all around, while others see frightening things – threats and monsters wherever they look.

Imagine if you were seeing the world for the first time; if you had never seen a tree for instance, and didn’t have the words – branch – leaf - trunk – how would you describe it?

The way your character sees the world can show the reader so much more about that character. Make your descriptions work on more than one level. Show your reader how your character sees their world.

Mimsy has just spotted something – you or I wouldn’t think twice, but Mimsy’s just a little kitten, taking her first steps into the big outdoors.

Can you guess what it is?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Big Reveal

The ‘Reveal’ is pivotal to a good story.

It’s a fine balancing act – what to reveal, when to reveal, and when to hold back. This is particularly important if you are writing crime or thrillers, but applies to all genres.

A well placed reveal drives the story along. And I’m not talking about the one reveal – the big one that comes at, or just before the climax. I’m talking about all the little reveals you need along the way.

It’s a bit like putting together pieces of a puzzle; one where the final picture cannot be seen until all the pieces are in place. As each fragment slots in you can see a bit more, hints of the final image; clues that there’s something bigger ahead. You change your perception, guess again at what the outcome might be. But you also know that it is only when the final piece falls into place that all will be clear.

You have to keep reading.

So, fellow writers, think about what you are revealing and when. Can you hold back and reveal a bit later? Or does the reader need a smaller reveal now?

Mimsy is wondering when to reveal to us where she’s hiding.