Monday, July 18, 2011

The hardest thing I'm having to learn is how to write the boring details that describe the world of the story I'm writing. I have more fun writing dialogue, and I think I'm pretty good at that. At least I've been told so on a couple of occasions.

The way I approach the first draft of a story is to get as much of the story as I can as fast as I can. (Speed is another issue.) I write just enough (I think) to set the scene and then I focus on the actions of the characters and the interactions between them. The second draft is go back and look at the interactions and actions and see if they ring true. I don't really pay attention to the scene. The biggest criticism of my work thus far is that I don't do enough of the work to get the reader IN to the scene. That's what my third drafts have been for lately. Still, it's what I have to work on.

There are tons of books and websites and blogs that will help me decide what details need to be in a scene. I can see the scene in my head when I'm writing it, but getting it clear for the reader is the tough bit. I'm learning more from reading a wide variety of writers than I am from those 'helpful' books.

What I want to avoid is bogging down in details. I want my stories to be lean and fast, absorbing reads. I want visitors to my worlds to be drawn in. I guess that means I need to think more visually and really get those details down.

Who are your favorite writers for scene-setting? Let me know in the comments. Also, who are your favorite writers of dialogue?


Angela said...

China Mieville and Thomas Hardy are my top picks for scene setting. I love to live in their worlds (different as they may be).

But dialogue? You've got me there. Really well-written dialogue blends into the story too well for me to notice it as a feature, I think. Actually, the few books that have conversation that I remember are "Anne of Green Gables" books; L.M. Montgomery really captured dialogue between women well!

Jason Arnett said...

I haven't read any Thomas Hardy but Mieville is hands down one of the greats. What I love about his stuff is that he doesn't write these really huge passages that you want to skip over. He breaks things up nicely while giving the reader what's needed to dive into the scene.

Prospective Writer said...

I think Neil Gaiman is amazing at world-building. I always have very vivid images of his settings without feeling bogged down by description. As far as dialog...I'd never expect you to read her, but Janet Evanovich in her Stephanie Plum books: Her dialog is witty and perfectly paced and I always wish there was just a little bit more, which says to me that it's just the right amount. Although to be honest, from the serialized fiction I've read on your website, you write it very well, too.

Jason Arnett said...

I totally agree with your assessment of Gaiman's worldbuilding. He's a writer I try to emulate but fail miserably. I'll try to check out Evanovich's stuff. I love great dialogue.

I don't take that one thing I do pretty okay (dialogue) for granted. Thanks for noticing.