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Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Once again, I'm going through "Seer Tyro Fiend" to make the adjustments previously noted. I realized if I shifted a significant event from a Friday night to a Saturday night, the timing works out better. This change, though, impacts a lot of different passages, with the need to invent something to fill the gap for Friday night.

I find myself thinking back to the book I read so long ago about writing fiction, the one that provided the recipe for plotting I've mentioned recently. I tried searching for it to learn the author, but apparently, a great deal has been written on the subject in recent years, and the book I'm thinking about is very old.

Anyway, there was a chapter that discussed the subject of what to put in and what to leave out. The author talked about approaching the task of cleaning out the refrigerator with her daughter. (I think they were going to defrost it, too, which says even more about the book's age.) Her daughter said, "I wish this was a book because then we could just say, 'they cleaned the refrigerator' and it would be done." This bit has stuck with me over the years. Anything that goes into a manuscript must have some reason to be there. A scene might be included to provide a small bit of information or a major plot development. It may give insight into a character's motivations or personality or it might add to one of the conflict layers. But if it doesn't do anything, does not move the story along in some fashion, it doesn't belong. No reader expects to plow through a minute-by-minute recounting of a period of time from the start of the story's conflict to its resolution. No read would put up with it either.

But the inclusion of seemingly inconsequential snippets of conversation or minor events can also be used to give clues in a subtle way. I like to play fair by giving a reader some chance to figure things out, but I still want that slap-to-the-forehead-I-should-have-seen-that-coming effect. It can be tricky, but that's half the fun.

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