Monday, 17 January 2011

It's good to know

I finally got time to go back to the rules of fiction link I put up for you on my last post, and read through Hilary Mantel's ten points. Not that they aren't all good, but two of them struck a real chord with me, so here they are.

7 Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that's the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don't notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they're trying too hard to instruct the reader.

8 Description must work for its place. It can't be simply ornamental. It ­usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.

She says it so much better than me, but I realise that I have been trying to show all my description through a viewpoint character in my new stories Treason and Defiance. I don't always succeed, but I'm reassured to know I'm on the right track.

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