I missed last week’s post, so today’s a two for one!
1. Showing Character
I’ve been working on a new story idea, which will hopefully become my next novel. To help inspire me, and also as part of my quest to continually work on my craft, I’ve enrolled in The First Three Chapters class at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre.
This week’s class was on showing your character through action. Now, when writing, this is of key importance. I could tell you that Sally is grumpy.
Sally is grumpy.
(Gripping stuff, non?)
Or, I could show you that she’s grumpy through action.
Sally yanked her alarm clock off the bedside table and threw it on the floor.
Did you learn more about Sally the second time, other than she’s a grumpy girl? I think so (i.e., she is not a morning person).
So, the lovely Sarah Johnson, our class instructor, had us write down different descriptors of our main protagonist for our work-in-progress (WIP). Then, she had us write a short paragraph where the character walks into the room and we show those descriptors.
First, let me show you what mine would look like if I just told you about my main protagonist.
Demi walks into the crowded bar and spots Todd immediately. Pissed off, she walks over, her braided hair not budging. Demi is not someone you mess with.
Okay. So we’ve learned that Demi is pissed with Todd, that her hair is braided, and that you shouldn’t mess with her – but little else.
Now let me show you who Demi is.
She’s been here for barely a breath and already she spots him. For a moment, she barely shifts. But then her spine goes ramrod straight and she tucks an imaginary stray lock into her already tightly braided hair. Her eyes narrow and she doesn’t even hesitate. Her slim legs launch forward in a crisscross motion, like sharpened scissors, as she heads straight for him. Her razor-like stride is audible across the room. He shrinks back. He has nowhere to go. He’s cornered.
Do you have a better sense of Demi? I hope so. Whatever descriptors come to mind, they’re not wrong, because they’re your own. I’m letting you decide, dear reader, who you think she is. As a writer, we have to trust the reader to have an imagination and to fill in the gaps. I think it’s much more gratifying to share the journey of the story, rather than tell you about it.
2. Update on Unspeakable
I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve finally done it. I’ve started querying. Some of you have asked me what querying means. Well, basically, it’s sending out letters to literary agents requesting representation. Unspeakable is commercial fiction. Large publishing houses will often not even entertain the idea of publishing your work without an agent. Agents understand the industry and help you find the right home for your book and also assist in sale and deal negotiation.
Nestpitch is also on the horizon (ten more days! But who’s counting?). So it’s time. Time to let go, and put my work out there. Wish me luck!