Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On the Rules

I'm starting to plunge into the latest rewrite of Silver Mask. I feel like I'm doing two things: returning to my original vision, but altering the current pace. The alterations the draft has undergone, partially due to the number of eyes I had go over the whole thing. Rather than attempting to identify my audience right off, I let varied critique groups tug at my confidence and fill me with rules i hadn't considered. My second-guessing and eagerness to produce a publishable manuscript left me open to their "rules" which led away from what "knew" was true.

Now, I am figuring out what to ignore, as well as establishing where I want to go with my work. Here is a sampling of my ideas:

What I was told--

1) Be wary of similes in Fantasy, your readers might take them literally.
2) Authors need to keep the passages focused on actions to keep readers' interest.
3) Readers' attention spans are short, so be careful of poetry, longer sentences, etc--they won't get subtlety.

What I now think of these things--

1) Similes represent symbolic thought. We don't think literally, and if well-crafted, the simile will not confuse the reader.

2) I subscribed to action for the longest time before realizing that it was my lack of description (which I was already aware of my issues with) that were holding the story back. I had liked the idea of having integrated action and description all the way through a book , start to end. I felt that this would hold the reader's attention better. I was wrong. I now believe that through description with interspersed action (still placing emphasis on setting the scene rather than on what exactly the character is doing)I will create a more solid visual base upon which the reader will extrapolate and attach meaning in following passages.

3) Shorter attention spans is an oversimplified manner of looking at a cultural shift. Yes, we listen to soundbites. Yes Twitter is insanely popular; and yes, action packed books sell well--but we are also an increasingly visual society. Did it ever occur to anyone that action-packed stories require a sort of picture-building that makes the visceral reality of a book take solid shape in the reader's mind? I do think this is part of the equation. An overlooked part. So for Epic fantasy, more descriptive works are preferred because the description allows the world and thus the characters in it, to attain the sort of life the reader is looking for.

Now I'm working on carefully building each scene and the process is teaching me where the real holes in the manuscript are. Yay for the learning experience.

1 comment:

  1. Reviewers can offer valuable insights, pointing out things the writer had been blind to. On the flip side, reviewers, who often have strong ideas about writing themselves, can inadvertantly impose their own philosophies and styles on a work. In the end, it's the writer's vision and how cohesive it is that makes a piece work or not. It's a real balancing act, listening to comments and deciding which to incorporate or ignore. Good luck, and gret wisdom!