Friday, November 2, 2012

Write Full Days

We live day to day. Each morning we wake up, we go through our daily lives, and each night we go to sleep to start the cycle all over again for 365 days a year, and every year after that.

When you’re writing, don’t just jump from event to event. Your detailed plan may be compiled of events that make up the beginning, middle, and end of your book, but just writing the events is not a story. You need to have moments in-between those events to give the reader time to breathe and think. There needs to be dialogue and character building.

Just as we live day to day, have your main character live day to day too. You don’t necessarily have to begin each chapter with the protagonist getting out of bed and end each chapter with them jumping back into it. After all, several chapters can be for a single day. However, you’ll want to follow lives to make the story feel real to the reader, to give substance, and to also avoid confusion.

Photo by Chrys Fey
This clock was made by my grandfather.

On the other hand, don’t write hour to hour. A reader doesn’t have to know everything about your protagonists’ morning routine or each meal that they eat, unless it is essential to the story. You can still give the illusion of a full day by using phrases like “In the morning” or “At dinnertime”.  A simple way to show that your character lives each day without beginning and ending every chapter with your character in bed, is by starting a new chapter with “The next day” and then continuing the story.

Another trick without using transitory phrases is to cleverly hint at the time of day in your writing. Is the sun rising or setting? Is the sky ebony? Are morning birds chirping? Is it time for your protagonist’s two o’clock cup of coffee or chocolate hit?

QUESTION: What literary character’s life do you enjoy following the most?

I love to follow Eve Dallas’ life in J.D. Robb’s In Death series because she is cop surrounded by death and her day-to-day life is always chaotic.

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