Tuesday, October 23, 2012

INKBLOTS -- How to make fiction read like reality

Not this Tito

INKBLOTS October 22, 2012

Fire on the hearth, South African Syrah (thanks, John, very nice). Four of us tonight; welcome, T2, not the Tito pictured!

Doug talked about Reviewer #9 (without affection). Particularly offensive was the certitude that an eighteen year old would not know who Knox is or anything about the Westminster Standards. Grrrrrowl (to quote roughly  Dougie).

We talked about how to portray thoughts in fiction. Italics and punctuated as if it was a speaker instead of a thinker. Doug Mac read from his Monte Casino campaign WW II historical fiction. We learn that the Brazilians fought in this campaign, and we learn that Tito is named for the Dictator of Albania, named for a Marxist when his dad used to be one himself.

Are you continuing in present tense? I say, he asks, makes my stomach tighten... Make sure you attribute early for a new speaker. Dougie Mac is intentionally writing in present tense. I missed the anticipation of the incoming ordnance and the death of the German. Protagonist is willing to compromise his theology principles to please the mother of Sophia, the Italian girl he thinks he is in love with. The relic is the cross of St. Anthony, the patron saint of marriage. Dougie's overall objective is to adorn the unity of the body of Christ. 

John commented on the overuse of the word "wall." Do you hear shells incoming? You hear that you never hear the one that gets you. Writing historical fiction sometimes means doing some pretty detailed research to get things accurate. Fiction is contrivance, and the best fiction is detailed and accurate, contrivance that is authentic and convincing.

John is preparing his submission of Saving Grace to Writers Edge. He read his synopsis which reminded me again of the great potential this books has. Dougie wonders if it ends too abruptly without actually telling how it resolves. Which brings up whether a synopsis in this context should tell all or withhold the final conclusion. Obviously the synopsis on the back cover of the book should not tell all, but what about when submitting a manuscript to a reading service or publisher? My theory is that we’re also trying to sell the publisher on the story, as we hope they will want to do to readers. Therefore, I’d recommend telling enough in the synopsis so they get the idea, but leave them wanting more, tease them into wishing you had given them the end, but don’t do it. My opinion, for what it’s worth.
T2 is working on a book of sermons turned to book chapters. T2 is editor of the project, to be published by Reformation Heritage Books, Joel Beeke. T2's testimony is a thrilling story of the power of the gospel to transform a life, the clear highlight of the evening. His dad, a well-known South American neurosurgeon, with no time for the gospel, disowned him. Named by his Marxist father for the Albanian dictator, Tito has a degree in chemistry and another in accounting, but his calling is to preach the gospel and shepherd his flock.

I brought up the rear with reading from chapter seven of my 14th century tale set during Wycliffe’s life in England. When I finished Dougie Mac’s comment went something like this: “When I listen to you read you seem to show so much more than in my writing, atmospheric details like birds, but specifically eider ducks and what they are doing on the banks of the river, and then your protagonist heaves a rock at one…” It went something like that.

Based on that observation, we discussed knowing when to throttle back the pace of the story so that there is room to flesh out the local color and ambiance, make things authentic, real-to-life, but still not lose the forward motion, the energy, the rapid pace so essential to a fascinating and compelling read. There are times when I feel that I need to slow down and flesh out authentic details in the narrative, but always in the context of the details effecting my protagonist, never dangling description. It always must be landing, creating a reaction in my characters, otherwise it doesn’t need to be there, and it will stall the pace of the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment