Monday, September 26, 2011

Ways to Make Your Story Sing

So, as I've been revising this secret little story, I've been paying BIG attention to voice. As in, staying in it, making it good/real/rich, making it o-o-z-e personality. Tone. Mood.

I was watching a thriller the other day, and just before something bad happened, the music got all tinkly. And when the tension rose, the music got louder, fast.

How can we use music in our writing? How can we strengthen voice?

Well, I'm finding that little tricks can make an enormous difference.

Like. Punctuation! (Including parentheses. And ellipses...)

And sentence fluency.

And paragraph structure.

And it's so all about word choice.

All of these things--and showing, not telling, and using specific nouns and strong verbs--add to a story's personality/tone/mood.

Dashes. Drawls. Slang?

POOF! How about some onomatopoeia?

Or italics? Fragments? Pacing!

It's all up to you: the feel you want to create, the music you want to play.

(And by all means, help a sister out. If you have any good tips, please. Leave them right here.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brushing off the Dust

A month or so ago, I pulled up the very first story I ever wrote, a simple little YA story that no one but my writing partner, Christy, has ever read.

At first, I thought it was incredibly primitive, as in "primate," as in, a monkey must have written the thing.

There was not much action, hardly any plot, underdeveloped characters with way too old vocabularies, too much "telling," a whiny MC.

I mean, compared to the political-dystopian-colonialist MS I just finished, this really was monkey business.

But also, the little story had some fun stuff: a vessel for telling the story that teens would really like, an uncommon but exciting setting, an MC with potential, an ending that I love.

Then, I started tinkering with it a bit--polishing up voice, working the setting, adding some dimension to the MC with dialogue. I made sure I answered the questions I asked at the beginning.

I started tinkering a lot--changing the direction of some plot points, making the MC more likeable/relateable, adding detail to the MC's motivation, the reasons for her action/reaction.

Now what I have is kind of a mess. But it's a better mess than it was when the monkey wrote it.

I'm going to tinker some more and see what comes of it, and be wide open to that whatever.

How about you? What are you working (or re-working) on?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can It Be About Secondary Characters?

Several months ago, I was talking with one of my writing partners about how we both loved our secondary characters, far more than we liked our MCs.

What's with that?

Is it okay?

Well, I finally got around to watching "The Black Swan" last week while Man Down with a kidney infection, and I realized why I had put it off for so long: I am not a fan of Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Yes, I do respect her long hours at training for the part--the ballet she took, the weight she lost, the craft she honed. But, simply, I am not in love with her, and have never been, not even in "Where The Heart Is."

Instead of going into all the blab about why I'm not a Portman superfan, I'll tell you that I am head over heels for "Swan" secondary characters Mila Kunis (who had me at "Book of Eli") and the talented and gorgeous Frenchman Vincent Cassel, who can give one look that can win an Oscar. So for me, these two carried me through the movie. Them, and plot, and setting.

The other night, my little family went to see Bill Rauch's rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" at the outdoor Shakespeare theater. It was magic: the sword fighting and swashbuckling and disco dance breakouts. The female lead sang way too high, though, and none of us could understand what she was saying (though she did have her some swanky kimono PJs), and the lead male was meh.

But the Pirate King! Aye, my friends! This lad was really something!

And Ruth, the nursemaid, was equally fantastic. And the rollicking Modern Major General? Unforgettable!

It probably shouldn't be so that a reader or movie watcher or play goer not like the MC. But it does seem to happen, and if it does, it's better to have some really amazing sidekicks to go with it.