It’s All In The Details: Balancing Big And Little Scenes

TA-DA! Doesn’t my blog look lovelier than ever?! It’s so fresh, so exciting, so very in and now…and so very very the same! It seems white (utter blankness) is calming, to me anyway; I tried uploading different backgrounds and headers but to no avail, it just made everything look crowded and distracting and that just doesn’t work for me. I cannot write or read when my eyes don’t know what to settle on; so for now I’m keeping things calm, like a little oasis of tranquility, with little paper umbrella’s in your drinks and all. So let’s kick back, relax and get this thing started!

Writing a novel of any genre is a long process; between planning, research, writing, getting stuck, writing, finding anything ANYTHING with chocolate in it in the house, and writing some more, let’s just say it’s a time-consuming lifestyle (unless you are one of those writers who can get an entire novel out in like three weeks, which personally I think is highly indicative of you being an alien sent this planet to make the rest of us look bad). Suffice it to say, (aliens aside) writing is fraught with frustration, especially when all you can think about is THAT BIG SCENE coming up or at the end of the novel. It drives you insane, it consumes you, it’s all you can think about…finally being able to write that pivotal moment that will MAKE your story and make people remember you. It’s like a siren call, luring you into daydreaming about it instead of writing where you’re at, which leads to aggravation because you are nowhere near that scene and what you’re writing now doesn’t feel as important. It must not be important then, right?

Wrong.

Everything you write is important: every moment, every description, every scene, every minor plot twist and moment of character development. It’s the little things, the details, which draw readers in, making them care enough to feel anything when they finally reach THAT moment. If readers do not care about the characters at the beginning, the middle, or three-quarters in, chances are they are not going to care at the end when that climactic scene finally arrives, no matter how awesome or descriptive the writing has suddenly become. As a writer, it is your job to tell someone else’s story and part of that means finding someone to take the time to read and understand it, which can only truly happen if readers bond with the characters and genuinely care about them suffering through the obstacles placed in their path. This bonding comes largely from the details, the ‘little moments’. From the very first word onward, however long it takes to reach THAT scene, is where you must work your hardest, because it’s here that you have to make someone begin to love, worry, and care about someone beyond themselves. So, that pivotal scene in your novel…it happens a lot sooner than you think and in a moment that you probably did not intend it to. The climax is still important, but so are the details leading up to it.

So plan ahead and write accordingly.

If you want a reader to experience despair in the climactic moment in the middle/near end of a story, you must give them some sort of happiness before that. If you want them to feel safe, they need to have been frightened at some point. Give the readers the opportunity and time to experience one emotion fully so that when you take it away later they feel the loss of it and can truly grieve what was taken. Your novel’s climax might be terrifying or heart-breaking, but it will only be so if, in those unexciting-to-write moments, you’ve detailed your character experiencing the opposite. No one can feel hate if they’ve never felt love, or experience fear if they have never known the warmth of safety. Balance your details, your big moments and little ones and know that both are important to the overall impact of the story you as a writer are trying to tell.

In the end, you want something from the reader: a reaction. And likewise the reader wants something from you: a reason to react. Give readers the opportunity to react by providing them a reason to. Give them the little moments – the details and descriptions – so that when the big moments arrive they understand what’s at stake.

Fooled you didn’t I?! It’s Called World-Building

Well I certainly did not plan on being away for that long (sheepish grin). I imagine you all were beginning to lose hope, but hold fast dear friends, for I have returned! For some reason — that I am oh so thankful for —  I got into a writing zone and was having a deliriously happy time writing my novel, though I did feel somewhat neglectful of my blog (I just miss you all so much when I’m gone).

So…hmm today’s topic, let’s think…what should I rant/give advice on today. I think it would be both wise and practical to build on the last blog ( the intricacies of fantasy writing, research etc), and discuss that oh-so-important thing called WORLD-BUILDING. We touched on that before but now lets delve a little deeper shall we.

First of all, consistency is an essential element of world-building in a novel, so early on it is important to take notes, pages and pages of notes if need be. This sounds very basic I know, but it’s surprising how often people think they will remember tiny important details because “their brain knows this is important and must be remembered”. Yeah, that doesn’t tend to work well in the long run. If you think of something like the name of a character or a town or the reason why your character has wings growing out of his feet or something WRITE IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY. Notes are invaluable in the long run, you may mention something or someone once and then  not mention them again for a hundred pages or two and by that time all the information you had may just be lost inside your mind. Notes allow writers a quick and easy way to access forgotten information which allows them to stay consistent with their previous statements. If a character has brown hair and green eyes at the beginning of the story it’s annoying to a reader to suddenly read about black hair and blue eyes (unless something drastic has happened of course and it has been properly explained). If a character is seventeen at the start of a novel and has yet to have another birthday in the course of it, they should not be twenty at the end. Consistency seems so simple, so effortless but it is one of the easiest ways to destroy your work and your reader’s patience with you.

I am guilty of not writing things down at once too, and trust me, it’s nothing but aggravation when you can’t remember something brilliant you had just thought of the day before, or an hour ago, for five minutes ago before some random song got stuck in your head or your brain just randomly switched to…and there it is, it’s that easy to lose your sentence (or whatever it was).

Also, world-building in fantasy/sci-fi/ ect novels is nothing if not details. A world and its existing societies have to be believable as well as relatable however different they are from our own. Get the reader’s attention with the “whys” and “hows”, get their sympathy but don’t bore them to tears with twenty pages on what trees grow where or why the ruling class thinks poorly of the peasants. There is a fine line between not enough information and too much. The details you give a reader need to have a purpose in the plot, they need to make you feel something for a character or a place or give you that nagging suspicion that something might be upsetting the order later on. Explain why your characters are so beat down and ragged, or why the ground is inhospitable to life-giving crops; give something for readers to cheer for, to hate, to understand. The smallest detail can impact the entirety of a novel. (And besides the more details you have about the running of your world or character, the easier it is to write them!) Give your readers something to grasp onto. Readers need to be involved in the reading process, they need just enough information that they feel as though they are contributing to the story in someway, or are at least a part of it. Engage them, dazzle them , leave them guessing but also leave them hope. Details are the only hope readers have, they are the only thing to base possible idea’s  and conclusions off of.

There is much much more involved in the world-building process of writing but I do believe I will save that up for another blog and another time (just to keep you on your toes)! So don’t be afraid to experiment with new and different writing idea’s, but always remember to stay consistent in your own world and the more details you have the easier it is to write because you’ll understand the all important “whys” and “hows”! I would add something witty or sarcastic here to mark the end of this rant/blog, but to be quite honest, I can’t think of anything!