Saturday, June 27, 2009

Skriv scener som engagerar

I senaste nyhetsbrevet från engelska författarcoachen och romanförfattaren Jacqui Lofthouse ger hon råd om hur man skapar scener som engagerar läsaren:

1. Before you write any scene, take a moment to reflect on your central character and his or her character arc. What is the main journey that character will go on and what is his or her conscious desire. (This will be his/her apparent longing) and what is the unconscious desire (the learning)? Every scene will need to relate to this character arc in some way. Or, if it is a scene not involving the protagonist, the same arc can be drawn in relation to a secondary character.

2. When writing a scene, consider how your character will change or grow during the course of this scene. What action will take place? How will the action move forwards? And how will your character develop? If there is no action or development, something is likely to be amiss.

3. Ask - what is at stake for my character here? How is my character being challenged? What shift will the character make during the course of the scene? Does s/he move from hope to despair? From desire to a sense of loss? From excitement to disappointment?

4. Think carefully about point of view. Is your point of view consistent within this scene? If you keep it consistent, the reader will engage better. If you are writing in the third person, is your narrator intruding? Limit the point of view to the character with whom you want the reader to empathise and the reader is more likely to be drawn in. Also, there will be no unwanted distraction for the reader, which happens when they become too aware of the narrator.

5. Be sure to include enough close narration. This will allow us to feel involved. A close perspective deepens our sense of wanting to know more because we come to care about the character. If we don't see inside the character's head, it can be more difficult for us to give a damn.

6. 'Show don't tell'. We've all heard this maxim, but do we really 'get' it? Going inside a character's head, for example, is not telling. Focussing on showing means 'don't dictate to the reader what is happening here - reveal it'. You can reveal it through action, through dialogue, through internal narration. You can't reveal it through telling us the character's state of mind, but you can through telling us their direct thoughts. This is an area that Sara will be addressing strongly in the 'Plan your Novel' day.

7. Are you revealing something particular about your character; is there something unusual happening here? I'm asking you to be sure that your character is experiencing something SPECIFIC to him or her, not something that is general to all of us. We read fiction, largely, because we want to be shown something new, something that will engage and amaze us. Don't go for the obvious in your work. Make a list of possible actions your character might take. The twentieth on your list is likely to be more interesting than the first.

8. Check your pace. Be sure not to be sidetracked. Keep focussed on the action that moves your character towards his or her objective. Challenge your character. Let him or her face obstacles that need to be overcome. Give the character CONFLICT. And be sure to allow him or her to interact with others. If you want to write about a character thinking about the meaning of his life, be careful. A character alone is notoriously difficult to write.

9. Keep it tight; keep it precise; look at individual detail.Try not to get carried away with fancy language. Good writing is more likely to be precise language that avoids adverbs and uses adjective with great care. You're looking for the well-chosen observation here. Only use the words that you need.

10. Focus on your own passion.If you are excited to be writing the scene, it is likely that this will translate to the reader. Guidelines can help you to improve your style, but you are the only one who can communicate the uniqueness of your ideas.

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