So, I am currently in the early stages of writing a new book. It’s going to be much longer than the last one–probably will end up being a novella, but maybe a novel if I’m lucky. It’s already about as long as the longest story in my first book, and I’m still introducing the main characters and conflicts.
I’ve tried to incorporate the helpful suggestions and critiques I’ve received from my first attempt–many of which came from Blogger friend P.M. Prescott, to whom I’m very grateful. The book so far is much more like the last story in the collection, ‘The Quarry”, in that there is more dialogue, and the dialogue is used to convey information about the characters and setting, rather than just using the description.
One of the hardest things about writing fiction is that I’ll get stuck with a certain”voice” in my head, and it gets translated to the page it permeates the whole story. In the last collection, the “voice” was very much like H.P. Lovecraft’s, and Lovecraft rarely did dialogue. And regardless, when you have a single authorial voice, it can make it hard to write dialogue that seems like it’s really multiple people–you have to be careful to differentiate how they speak, so it’s clear who’s who.
That is not to say there is not any description. The other thing that I’m working on is putting a little more thought into the descriptions, to try to do a better job of painting a picture for the reader. In previous work, I’ve consciously shied away from doing too much in the way of description, because I think that too much can bog the story down, and that sometimes the most effective way of scaring somebody is to leave some things unsaid or just hinted, so their mind fills in the blanks with the scariest things they can imagine. But it’s a delicate balance, and I may have gone too far in the direction of vagueness before; making the scenes seem too clinical and detached.
The other thing I’m doing differently this time is what I’m doing right now: occasional blog updates on my progress. I’ll maybe even post an excerpt or two, depending how it goes.
Congratulations on staring at a blank screen and beating out a story. Damn hard.
We all have our favorite authors and like their style. The trick is meld different authors voices into the story so one character is more voice A and another character is voice B. Try reading a story aloud and changing your voice as you read (oral interpretation) for each character then you can do the same thing as you’re writing them.
What I did when told my female characters were too weak was to write a short story from the feminine perspective. It was pure exercise, but it helped the novel I was working on at the time. When I retired I turned it into my novel Human Sacrifices. For this I used elements of Harlan Ellison. The more I write I use elements of Isaac Asimov, James A. Michener, William Manchester, Colleen McCulough, Anne McAffrey, Mickey Spillain, Barry Sadler, Paul L. Maier, and many others. You may find voices outside your genre can give diversity to the story. Reading non-fiction will help develop a character that is a professor or doctor or head shrinker lending credence to their words.
For descriptions think of the scene, find a picture that matches as close as possible to the scene and write that picture in minute detail. In your story pick and choose the parts of the picture that is most important for the reader to understand. If you try to write blind as a novice you don’t know what should or should not be in the description.
I have taken some of my descriptions and turned them into short stories and a novella after the novel I used it for was finished.
If you want more help I’ll be glad to coach, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a correspondence.
Thanks very much! I will definitely be in touch as I questions/issues arise.