I Shaved Today

As it turns out, I need to leave the house today.

I’m going to a friend’s shindig tonight.  The rules of engagement say you should try and not look like a hobo for that kind of thing.  It’s probably good timing – today was a harder writing day.

Word goal: 2,500.  Word achievement: 2,700.  Not quite as high as previous days.  Human interaction might give me a jolt.

Film Clapper 2 by jaylopez.

In my defence, the scene I was working on needed to combine a few crazy elements:
a) A contagion, and
b) A romance.

It turns out that these are not the sorts of things that go naturally together.  This got me thinking about the various elements of storytelling – including props.

For me, writing’s a bit more like a screenplay.  I see the scenes in my head, the chair here, the actor there.  It’s just that I don’t want to describe each of those elements – just the high points.  I think that if I sketch around the edges enough, the reader will fill in the blanks for me.

If I’m writing a screenplay to a movie in your head, that means I’m making the reader the director.  Giving your audience directorship is very powerful – the bar has the booze bottles that fit best with their visions of alcoholism, or the house has chipped paint like the one they remember from their childhood, or the derelict drunk on the pavement has a jacket just like the one they wear themselves.  Or something.

Many of the books I read describe the detail of the props in each scene.  I think that’s a mistake – the screenplay (or novel, if you like) should describe just the bits it needs to.  Your brain knows what a hospital looks like; you’ve seen it in countless movies and maybe been in one yourself.  Describing it to you just wastes your time, when we should really be getting back to the action and the snappy dialogue.

So, that’s my thought for the day: honour the reader as the director.  I hope they’ll own the story a bit more that way.

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