Join Lisa Cron for an in-depth discussion in this video Story check (Being specific rather than vague), part of Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story.
- View Offline
If you want to be sure your story is grounded in specifics, what the reader not only needs but really wants to know, ask yourself the following questions--and be ruthless. First, have you translated every single generic into a specific? You want to make sure that everything on the page is so specific that as far as the reader is concerned, your story is virtual reality. Second, will the reader know what your protagonist's specific reactions are? Remember, the reader isn't simply interested in what happens, what they really want to know is how what happens is affecting your protagonist.
Don't forget to let us in on what she's really thinking. Third, do all your sensory details--that is what something looks like, feels like, tastes like--have an actual story reason to be there? You want to be sure each sensory detail is strategically placed to give us insight into your characters, your story, and perhaps even your theme. Remember, the reader expects that everything you tell them is there strictly on a need-to-know basis. That includes how delicious the strawberry taste, how stunning the sunset looks, and how excruciating the pointy-toed high-heels were.
Okay, to help get the hang of this, open the example in your exercise files. It's the rough draft of a scene featuring a woman named Mable. She's worried about something. Your job is to decide exactly what.
- What is a story?
- Hooking your reader
- Feeling what the protagonist feels
- Being specific
- Creating suspense and conflict
- Writing flashbacks and subplots