SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Recent Posts

Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The Craft of Writing / Re: How bad is “was” and how do you avoid it?
« Last post by Anne Marie on February 20, 2019, 09:15 AM »
Everything Jan said. BIG BIG DITTO.
The Craft of Writing / Re: How bad is “was” and how do you avoid it?
« Last post by Jan Fields on February 20, 2019, 07:32 AM »
I'll sometimes see writing that is chock-a-block with was ___ing sentences that have nothing to do with continuing action. I think it happens because they're looking for a sense of immediacy and feel that might be a way to get it. But the past progressive has a very specific purpose. It's to point directly to continuing action. So if you have an action that you want specifically to point out as not a quick action but one that went on throughout a specific period of time, the past progressive works great. When it's rare, it brings special attention to the ongoing action. When it's just used for most of the verbs in some effort to make the action feel immediate, then it's just wordy.

The thing about verb forms -- any verb forms -- is that we need to use them purposefully, Throwing out specific words automatically without thought is like just throwing tools out of a tool box so that the box won't be so heavy. You may find the box easier to handle, but you'll also end up using a screwdriver for a paint scraper, just because you decided you don't want all your tools available.  We need to understand our grammar tools and use them for very clear and specific reasons. And then when we do that, we'll never be bothered when someone says something "should be avoided if at all possible;" we'll just smile and nod and check our verb use, not to automatically cut things out, but to be sure they are actually doing a necessary job and doing it well.
Picture Books (PB) / Re: Doing this for the 1st time
« Last post by hauntedsouls on February 20, 2019, 06:28 AM »
Thanks, Vijaya!
Hmmm, this is hard. How do you reveal information at the proper time? How do you do this without the reader feeling manipulated? You want to leave clues so that when the surprise is revealed, it feels right but the reader doesn't see it coming, and this means withholding information until absolutely necessary. This means that that your POV character cannot know this until absolutely necessary either, so choose your POV characters carefully. Whose secret is it? Who stands to gain from hiding it/revealing it? Keep these things in mind as you write. Don Maass writes about information and the impact it can create in his Breakout Fiction. It's a really great book for many reasons! Beg, borrow, or buy a copy!

An unreliable character is one way. But I think you are also asking how to not deceive the reader but build real suspense. Here's a good article on building suspense:

Good luck writing  your story!
Picture Books (PB) / Re: Doing this for the 1st time
« Last post by Vijaya on February 20, 2019, 06:02 AM »
Coming late to this Haunted, but it's great you are expanding the type of stories you want to tell. You can still try a PB format and see where it takes you--often it becomes an outline for an older book (why yes, I speak from experience, lol) but not all PBs are for little ones. Some are for older kids who are reading on their own. I suggest a few days at the library browsing the different age groups to see both distinctions and the overlap. Good luck!

Some useful threads:
The Craft of Writing / Re: How bad is “was” and how do you avoid it?
« Last post by A. S. Templeton on February 20, 2019, 05:29 AM »
I see, "She was sitting..." I try to change to "She sat..."
Actually the progressive past was sitting vs. the simple past sat is a poor example of interchangeabity. In casual speech and some writing, such helpers as the preposition down or the reflexive self are often omitted, creating ambiguity about existing vs. new action or status.

Of course you could cast an entire narrative into the present tense and give all characters no sense of the past or self, thereby killing off all instances of was or am. Quite a challenge!
Picture Books (PB) / Re: Doing this for the 1st time
« Last post by dinalapomy101 on February 20, 2019, 04:30 AM »
I have a mantra: Show the reader what the reader needs to know when the reader needs to know it. This means, nothing comes up until the POV character figures it out.

There may be times when one character knows something the other doesn't. You can have a character who is an unreliable narrator of their own story. Perhaps beasty thinks he wasn't so bad at the start and tells his part in that way. It's his truth not the truth, if that makes sense. After all, we're all heroes of our own stories.

I hope this helps.
Picture Books (PB) / Re: Doing this for the 1st time
« Last post by hauntedsouls on February 19, 2019, 06:30 PM »
Yes, that sounds like a good idea. This is a completely character-driven piece. She's young, as I said. Only 10 and it's not a novel by any definition, LOL. Can you give any good chapter book suggestions?
Picture Books (PB) / Re: Doing this for the 1st time
« Last post by mrh on February 19, 2019, 05:59 PM »
It does not sound like you have a PB here. They're much, much younger and very short, normally < 500 words.

You might have a chapter book if you have several chapters and a MC who is around 3rd or 4th grade. I'd suggest reading an armload of chapter books (NOT middle-grade novels; that's a different animal) to see if your story might fit that format. Do be aware that most chapter books are published in character-driven series.
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 9 10