Yesterday the fingers flew over the keyboard again. One of the things that a person writing a novel has to keep in mind is not to rush things. I remember when I started the Unnatural series I had no intention to create a series. Words just flowed right along with the story as it unveiled in my head, and it turned out to be larger than I expected. But there was the desire to get the first book done so that I could get on with a short story I had slowly rising in that reflective pool of creativity in my head: it wanted to be written.
With that pressing on me there was an urge to push through the writing, not take the time to flesh things out as much as I would like, to stay with the characters and their thoughts and feelings.
You have to remember: there is a part of our mind that wishes to get the freakin’ creative thing over quickly so that it can move on to the next logical, practical task. That’s the literal aspect of the mind that we creatives have to bottleneck through to complete the mundane task of typing or writing this language thing. That part does not cater to the holistic/spatial part of the brain that enjoys staying immersed in the worldly pool of creativity with its love of detail and no boundaries.
The creative mind loves detail. We get lost in it sometimes and have to make a balance with that practical part in the storytelling arena lest people get exhausted reading.
As a writer, or any creative artist, you could do worse than pick up a book by Betty Edwards on Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Lots of interesting work and studies on the right/left brain expression and how to tap into that for your creative efforts. She primarily refers to drawing, but the exercises get you to a deeper recognition of the mind shift of the creative process.
So how do you find that balance, that fine line where you move a story along smoothly but do not lose or exhaust the reader in detail?
Read it aloud for one thing. In art, painting or sculpting, among others, you have to step away from the piece you’re working on to gain perspective. And perspective is important.
In the writing arena we are so immersed in the thoughts and visuals, and, though we write them as words on a printed page with no physical life, we tend to not approach the material from other perspectives.
Storytelling was originally a spoken art. One sure way to gauge a reader’s attention is to try to hold them with your words. Since you are the first reader, take some time to speak the text aloud so that you can hear how what you have written flows. This is helpful with the dyslexic mind, where the formation of written words in a sentence may conflict with the auditory expression of them.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a great orator, or even read it aloud to anyone else. This exercise is for you so that you can pick up any hindrances to the ease and flow you may not have realized when writing the story. As you get further along in your experience and have many stories under your belt, this reading aloud becomes less an imperative, though no less helpful.
We writers, when working on a novel or other piece, are in a sense creating a tender infant that can’t be touched by the well-meaning thoughts of another being until it is grown. But there are people out there, a friend or a mentor, who can give you the perspective you need without getting your baby all filthy with their well-meaning fingers.
I personally have a chapter reader who understands my demands regarding safeguarding my creative process and the work at hand.
When I send a chapter or two off to her, she usually replies in the frame of a reader fully immersed in the world I create. She’s not one of those who needs to know where the story is going; she is in it for the ride and enjoys the moment-to-moment experience. She does not in any way ask me questions that would alter my creative process, only letting me know when something didn’t make sense to her, or if there was a break in continuity that made her somewhat confused. This is something I would prefer to have revealed to me while I’m early in the flow and experience of the writing, instead of waiting until its completely finished and on another project and then having to go back and remember where I was visually and emotionally.
She also lets me know how excited or worried or angry she is for the characters or the situations they’re in and gives me this information in a thinking-to-herself fashion. This gives me a small bit of glee and lets me know that I’m on the right track with telling the truth of the scene as I see it in my head.
It’s difficult to get a chapter reader as I have; I understand that fully. There’s a lot of trust involved, and as I said before, your story is an infant you wish to protect. For those of you who don’t have that kind of reader, get the novel written first, then pass it out to people you do trust but also respect.
Trust ties in with honesty, people who will give you honest remarks. Respect ties in with acceptance of another’s elevated experience. Both of these values have to deal with the subjective perception or the objective perception of your work. As the writer, you must know how to differentiate between the two to help improve your work.
I will cover those two topics in another blog as this one is getting a tad big. Thank you for reading this far, hearty reader. Your strength and patience is greatly appreciated.