Friday, May 7, 2010

The little things

One of the things I have the most difficulty with in my writing is the small stuff. So many times when I do a rough draft the only thing you will see in it is the action. Sometimes you need to have some smaller things included to add to the story, though.

First of all, what do I mean by the small stuff. I think details could be included in this. What is included in the setting, what does the character look like is not what I mean by this. I'm talking about the oddities. That birthmark on your MC's bum that only one or two other characters know about. It might come into play somewhere in the plot and add to the drama. How about that broken chair leg coming back to bite the antagonist literally. How would the antagonist handle that?

Quirks are an important part of the small things. Also phrases. Characters are made by the things they say and the things they do. Do you have a character that bites their lips when they're nervous? Or twirls their hair. This goes a long way to showing what your character is feeling without having to say it. Show... don't tell. Maybe you have a character that stutters. They stand out. Or they always make an inappropriate joke at the worst possible time. These things come through and really add to your work.

Growth is something else that I would include in the little things category. It just isn't believeable if it happens all right away. When you finally get to know that character as a reader, you see when a decision they make is something that would be unusual for them. A writer would know that character even better and you can see that growth, but you have to give the character the opportunity to actually grow, and not be too hard on them if they do make the wrong decision. Remember, if you force them to make the decision you want them to, it could change the whole story.

One of my favorite things to do in any genre or style is foreshadowing. For a long time I always assumed it was only for mystery/suspense, but I've come to learn that it works for evyer story. EVERY STORY! Generally it isn't something that will come into the story intentionally until the revision, but some times the ones that are accidentally added the first time around are even better. In "Silver Bullet" which is still in the first draft phase I had described a door at a training facility. It was monstorous and made of wood with intricate carvings on it. I didn't know when I was writing the story that it would actually come to mean something more later on in the story. These are the little things that can really impact a story. 

Lots of authors use these things. I think its really amazing when an author can manage to span some of these things over a series. Personally, as far as these things are concerned, my favorite is J.K. Rowling. She wrote seven books and all these little things came into play. Some of those books were really thick, too. How did she remember all that stuff? And if she was keeping notes, how did she ever find any of it? The great thing about the growth that happens in the Harry Potter series, is that it happens emotionally and physically.

So, last night I had a dream that is the reason for this post. Lately I've rediscovered my love for RockBand. The batteries in my guitar had died, so I found a screwdriver and popped off the back to change them. Well, after that I lost the screwdriver. When I found it, I lost the screw. I dreamt I had found the screw last night. Weird, huh.


  1. Very good post. I often forget the little things when I'm writing the first draft. I'll describe parts of the main characters one time and not mention much of their descriptions ever again. It's something I need to work on in rewrites and maybe even in new first drafts.

    The foreshadowing thing is also good to mention. I don't often know when I'm adding it in a first draft but for this I think it's okay. I've enjoyed the surprise elements beta readers have mentioned that I never thought twice about when writing.

    Fun dream.

  2. Hey chickee! You have an award at my blog!


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