Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Are You Building?

Former agent, Nathan Bransford, asked the question on his blog yesterday.

I have to admit to hearing crickets chirp for a while. What am I building? There are the stories and the worlds--real and imagined--that I am building. There are quilts and gloves and afghans. But what is there of any real importance that I am building.

Well, I'm building a life. With friendships, ideas, work and fun. I'm building what everybody builds (or, at least, I hope everyone is building a life). I'm probably not going to change the word in any significant way, but I hope I can make at least one person each day smile.

How about you? What are you building?

Monday, April 11, 2011

And Another Thing

I learned about writing from Top Chef is:

5) Use just the right amount of seasoning.

A lot of times the deciding factor in who has to "pack your knives and go" comes down to seasoning. Too much salt? You're out of there unless someone cooked something that was inedible. Produce a dish that's too bland? Another good way to get yourself a ticket home.

How many times have you read a story that has a good plot but leaves you flat? Chances are that the author under-seasoned. He didn't give enough description. Maybe the word choices could have been better. An adjective or two might have given it just a touch more flavor.

I've heard some authors say they want the reader to be able to supply the details so they are more involved.  Sorry, I think that's lazy. It's our world and our people, we need to make them real for the reader. Not the other way around.

Then there is the opposite extreme. Purple prose. The overly flowery, adjective-laden, adverb choked prose of an author who is just trying too hard.

I have a feeling I like description a bit more than most people do. I want to be able to picture where a story is taking place, what the characters look and act like, feel the sun on my face or the wind in my hair. So I have to make sure some of my first readers are those who like spare prose. I need to see if I've overwhelmed them or if they don't notice what I've done. Then my readers who are more like me have to weigh in on whether they felt the story was too bland.

How do you strike a balance when seasoning your writing? Do you prefer blander stories or ones with a little more flavor?