Monday, July 22, 2013

Writing Tip 7/100

Cenendra asked a great question on the last post. What if you have a big reveal you need to make midway through the book? You know it's a lot of information, but it's key to the story and too much info to slip into the normal flow. Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. First, really take a look and decide if it all has to come out at once. Is it possible to start revealing the information and have it interrupted by something else? This makes it not quite as long and also raises the reader's interest. You can do this by having something major stop the scene (an attack, arrival of  someone who shouldn't hear, etc.) You can also have the person providing the information only give part of it, feeling the other person isn't ready for the rest.
  2. Don't have person A just spilling the beans. Get person B involved. Let them ask questions, make guesses and deductions. A long uninterrupted monologue feels infodumpy, but if you do something like this, it doesn't feel quite as long:

    Mike glanced toward the cheese on the table. "Mom didn't die of natural causes."

    Suddenly, it all made sense to Sherry. The journal, the sudden move to a new city, the way her relatives always gave her odd looks when she mentioned rodents of unusual size. "It was rats wasn't it? She was killed by huge rats!"
  3. Have some kind of action going on during the conversation. One of the things you have to be careful of in dialogue is something I will talk about in a future post called "talking heads." This is where you just get line after line of dialog with no descriptions, internal thoughts, actions, etc. One of the best ways to fix this is by having something else going on. That's why so many conversations in books happen over dinner. It let's you do something like:

    Jayson cut of a piece of steak and speared it with his fork. "I'm not who you think I am."

    Jillian watched her brother shove the nearly raw meat into his mouth and rip into it like an animal. "I know exactly who you are."
  4. If there are things the reader already knows, summarize. Mike told her all about his terrible date of the night before.
  5. Do NOT have the characters remind each other of something they both obviously already know to explain it to the reader. "As you know, being twin brothers we both have the same birthday."
  6. And finally, try to avoid the dreaded bad guy spills it all just before he kills the good guy scene.
Hope that helps!

5 comments:

Cenendra said...

Thanks! I'll tell you how it works out.

M.L.Forman said...

I tried to do number 6 on this list... it really didn't work out well and the bad guy is sorry he did it.

M.L.Forman said...

I tried to do number 6 on this list... it really didn't work out well and the bad guy is sorry he did it. (That bit has been deleted.)

M.L.Forman said...

I tried to do number 6 on this list... it really didn't work out well and the bad guy is sorry he did it.

David Glenn said...

Hmm, I remember one example. I think such scenes of revelation work if the characters puts some pieces of the puzzle together and then someone else confirms their suspicions and gives them a little more information.