When I wrote The Silent Partner, I wrote it with visual stimulations of storytelling that I hoped would resonate with readers. Sure, there had to be great mechanics, grammar, structure, character, story construction, and prose. But to make emotion resonate throughout the story visually, the reader had to see and feel the story unfold.
I often get frustrated reading stories that have too much description (and adverbs) or not enough of it. (Straight dialogue does get right to it, doesn’t it? To me, this can be even more like a screenplay, but–personal taste–I desire to read stories that allow me to sink into the story.)
Of course, I had no idea if I was going the right direction with The Silent Partner, but after winning two Eric Hoffer Awards, including 1st Place in Commercial Fiction, now I really hope I’m onto something. I’m not proclaiming this process is revolutionary. It’s simple: connect with readers swiftly and powerfully. I wrote the novel this way, and will do this with the next one as well.
Simple tactics I employed:
- Details matter, but too many of them distract the reader and slow the narrative drive.
- Use the details that mean something. Use symbolism when appropriate, and don’t use clichéd ones.
- Stay away from adverbs whenever possible. It forces you to show the reader something a different way. Some readers think adverbs are lazy. I normally just don’t like the way they look on the page. (The occasional adverb is also more powerful then, too.)
- I was willing to get rid of “well-written passages” that didn’t move the story along aforementioned: swiftly and powerfully.
- I stayed away from melodrama but embraced drama. It connects.
- Stories are made great by fascinating characters. I spent a lot of time on building and complicating them. And they change with well-thought-out reasons.
- I allowed the story to have waves, or levels. Strong dialogue sections separate from action sequences. Exposition was simply written, and I worked hard to use the right language to get the ideas out quickly. With as few words possible. Then the story moved along more quickly, too.
- Find ways to say things without dialogue.
- Create scenes that have visually stunning–and relevant–actions. Then, they become memorable.
- The audience is smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. Don’t forget this. We don’t always need to spell everything out.
Here’s to more great storytelling.