Just the other day, my girlfriend’s daughter came to play at our house. She was looking around with this bemused expression on her face, then out of her mouth popped this: “You have too much stuff.”
I was immediately a wash of emotions: mortified, confused, amused. I gazed around my house. Piles. Neat piles at least. Magazines stacked on the coffee table. Magazines stacked under a desk. Books, and books, and books and stacks and stacks of books. Nick nacks… bits of paper, post it notes, notebooks, pens. And the thing is, it isn’t messy. There is just a lot of it. So I sent the kids back to the basement, pulled out a trash bag and started tossing magazines, papers, and anything I realized I didn’t care about particularly. I filled a whole trash bag, and felt a little better. I left a side table with a candle, and my coffee table with a candle a decorative plate. Tidied up the books, and stacked my papers on my desk.
Out of the mouth of babes… whoo! But it made me realize something too, and I’m always correlating real life to writing. As an author, contest judge, professional critiquer, proof-reader, copy editor, reviewer, I do A LOT of reading.
Sometimes we put too much stuff into our stories. And we don’t even notice it!
Too much stuff, like what? Too much backstory. Too much inner dialogue, too many secondary characters. Too many secondary plots.
Then there’s the complete 180 degree turn… Not enough stuff. Not enough action, dialogue, conflict, personality.
As writers we have to be careful that we have the right balance. That we aren’t tipping the scales too much in one direction. We want to engage our readers without boring them or overwhelming them.
How do you find that fine balance? Think of your story. What is it about? Who are the main characters? What is your “what if?” question? (This is your one-two sentence question or statement, your pitch, about your story. Example: What if a crazy book hoarding romance author met and fell in love with the host of a clean freak television show?) What are your characters’ GMCs (Goals, motivations, conflicts)? Ask yourself, is this relevant to the plot of my story? Does this move my story along? Are my characters growing from this?
Writing is a lot harder than simply putting fingers to keyboard (or pen to paper). Sure that’s the basic part, and you can’t get anything done without actually sitting your butt down in that chair, but it also takes a knowledge of the craft if you want to write “The End” on a decent piece of work. Study writing. Read a lot. Write more. Ask others to take a look at your work.
So tell me, so I know I’m not alone, do you have too much stuff?
Eliza Knight is the author of historical romance and time travel erotic romance. Visit her at www.elizaknight.com
Releasing April 28, 2010!!!!
Her Captain Dares All – Book Three in my Men of the Sea series, a Regency romance novella.
Pursued by kidnappers, Lady Tessa Woodward is running for her life. When handsome Captain Jeremy Williams comes to her rescue in the backstreets of Paris, she persuades him to help her escape France and return to her home in England.
Captain Jeremy Williams is captivated by Lady Tessa’s fiery nature and agrees to give her passage aboard his ship. Once on board, his desire grows and soon reveals a sensual side to the woman he can’t deny. But when danger threatens his lady, will the captain dare all to save her?
Upcoming Workshop 4/5/10 – 4/30/10
The Power of GMC: Crafting Compelling Characters and Kick-Butt Stories
by Renee Knowles and Eliza Knight
Do you find yourself confused by GMC? Is it a challenge to create gripping goals, motivations and conflicts for your characters? Do you have a hard time determining the difference between internal and external GMC? Do you want to kick up the tension and conflict in your story? Then it’s time to learn the ins and outs of GMC.
Without a solid backbone of internal and external goals, motivations and conflict, your story won’t grab the reader and characters can fall flat. This class will teach you how to dig deep and uncover your hero and heroine’s true GMC, re. You’ll learn how to define their goals succinctly and relate them directly to their conflicts and motivations. You will do exercises designed to help you use GMC to enhance your plot and give your story more direction.
In those lessons we’ll also be discussing POV, passive vs. active, showing vs. telling, and other nitty gritty details that make your manuscripts come alive.
Visit: www.celtichearts.org to register!