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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Narrative, dialogue, and readers' imaginations

cj Sez:  I find that the busier I get, the harder it is to remember my appointments. That was never the case when I was gainfully employed. I kept several calendars: on my desk, on my computer, and a tickler file in a drawer. I no longer maintain a computer calendar because my crack internet provider is less than dependable. Instead, I rely on at least two and occasionally three calendars. 

I’ll note an appointment on the calendar on the kitchen door and forget to write it
in my planner (I have GOT to remember to buy one for 2016) or vice versa. The third “occasional calendar” is simply the collection of all those little scraps of paper and back-of-business-card notes that I shove into the bottom of my pockets or purse. Who I’m supposed to meet when and where just disappears.

The truth is I’ve become lax and need to pay attention. Out of sight, out of mind.

I’m a visual person (is that a right brain or a left brain thing?), and that also shows up in my writing. Scenes are the least complicated for me to write. I enjoy creating the details that permit my readers to visualize where the characters are and what they are seeing. But I try to keep my details sparse and incorporated into the flow of the action. I believe my readers are smart and have imaginations they love to use or they wouldn’t buy suspense and mystery, right?  The following excerpt from my work-in-progress introduces the protagonist’s client and her circumstances: 

Bodean scratched out a check and pushed it across the desk. “Here’s the retainer. There shouldn’t be any trouble, and it shouldn’t take more’n a couple of weeks if you know how to do your job right.” Her new client heaved his bulk out of the chair and strode out of the office.
“I’ll be in touch,” she called as the door slammed shut. She waved the $1,400 check in the air. “You, dear thing, have just saved my derriere.”
Donnie walked in on her celebration. “What?”
“Ruth’s Chris for steak tonight, Donnie. We’ve got a paying client.”
  
Conversely, dealing with personal introspection/emotions/internal dialogue is difficult for me since I “see” the action in my stories as movies in my head. Narrative doesn’t exist in movies unless there’s a voice-over, so I tend to use very little of it. I’ve been told I need to write more narrative, so I’m working on expanding my use of internal dialogue. It’s a great way, if not THE way to get readers invested in the character which is necessary for a successful story.  The following excerpt from my work-in-progress is the physical introduction of the hero:
 
An inch over six-feet tall with espresso-brown hair, Zander Flemming’s smile showed even, white teeth as he stood to shake hands. In his late thirties, he looked ten years younger despite the tanned complexion of someone who liked to spend his weekends fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jake ignored the hungry little knot that twisted in her stomach every time she saw him and smiled.  

Okay, I’ve confessed. Your turn. What is your writing strength or weakness?

That’s all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj

cjpetterson@gmail.com
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo


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