Friday, March 5, 2010

Writing Re-Actions

Yesterday I wrote a piece and posted it on my blog, then after some thought, I later “un-posted”. Why? I’d had time to think about the post as a reader. What did that post say about me? About my character?

This is so tied in to what I do when I’m working on fiction. Except there are more reactions to take into account.

Character reactions. All those details I generate in developing characters, like their favourite foods and where they shop, help me to get into their heads. To feel what they are feeling. The tricky part is using words to express it. A feeling often doesn’t come across naturally if you just state it. You need to create it:

• Set up the conditions for feelings to emerge by creating problems and tension.
• Use actions to show how the character reacts.
• Provide room for the character to respond emotionally.

Reader reactions. How does the reader feel about what you wrote? This is difficult to judge when you’re the writer. You have to put aside your notions about how you want the reader to feel through the words and phrases you’ve put together and try to just react. It helps to have some distance. I set my work aside for a while after a draft is completed. It’s also part of the reason why I’m in a critique group.

4 comments:

  1. "It helps to have some distance. I set my work aside for a while after a draft is completed. It’s also part of the reason why I’m in a critique group."

    Totally agree!

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  2. These are good points. Anticipation for the reader's response isn't always easy, even when you've set up particular situations. I think that's why having a critique group who will tell you how they feel is so important.

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  3. I agree too. It's sobering how many times I've completed something and been well satisfied with it, only to come back to it a few months later and be horrified at what I find. And then, after further revising, tweaking and polishing, I submit it to writing friends or beta readers and they too find plenty to criticize... All good reasons for that cooling off period!

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  4. Well, I'm glad I have my critique group too! Christy, you're right -- it can be hard to predict how a reader will respond. I'm sure I don't always respond to novels the way the writer intended.

    Mary, I'm also horrified at my own writing sometimes. I think my work needs multiple chances to cool off.

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