it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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You hear their voices tell you not to go; they made their choices and they'll never know

What it's like to steal, to cheat, to lie, what it's like to live and die.

I want to talk about implied action. Implied action is the things the characters do, and the reader knows the character does, which the writer doesn't necessarily have to spell out because it is, in fact, implied.

It's a powerful tool. It's all a bitch and a half to learn to use, for me at least.

Okay. Blocking. If you are lucky enough to be a kinesthetic writer, this will come naturally to you. You will remember where and how your characters are positioned in regard to one another and the props, as automatically as another writer will be able to remember arcane details of plot. You will not need miniatures to plot out fight scenes.

It comes in handy.

If you are not lucky enough to be a kinesthetic writer, this shit is going to drive you out of your gourd. Sorry. I understand there are coping mechanisms that can help you manage that information, though. Okay. So if you have the knack, or if you don't, you will likely at first only record significant physical actions. The ones that matter to the story.

And you will find yourself confusing the reader. (The "you" in this narrative, by the way, is a thinly fictionalized "me." Bear with please.) Because this stuff won't have flow. The reader won't be able to see what's going on. The characters will be stuttering across his head.

So you'll overcorrect, and start detailing every move they make. Which will bog down your prose hideously in endessly cluttered narrative and repetitious, useless action. So you learn to imply action. And imply meaning in the action.

I still remember the first time this clicked for me. Suddenly, I could see what every action on the page was doing, how they fitted together. Which ones were necessary to the reader's understanding of character and which ones were necessary to moving the plot and which ones could be implied by the movements between the other ones.

It was just fantastic, this huge epiphany, when I realized that, for example, the information conveyed in something like "He was nervous. He sweated. He reached up left-handed and mopped the sweat from his lip onto his handkerchief" is all imparted, much more sleekly, by something like "He flicked the sweat from his lip."

Yep. I didn't even know what I had figured out at that point, but I knew what I was writing was better than what I had been writing.

It was all very good.

I do love my job.

"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"

Via xiphias, "They're Made out of Meat." The Movie.


I want to be this story when I grow up.
Tags: writing craft wank

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