Tag Archive - Christy Distler

Where’s the White Space?

Editor Christy Distler continues our examination of Fatal Flaw: # 6 Show, Don’t Tell. Writers often succumb to this fatal flaw of fiction writing, explaining and telling and summarizing instead of showing action as it’s happening. (If you’ve missed the first posts, be sure to read them here and here.)

“Show, don’t tell” is one of the most common instructions given to fiction writers. In other words, don’t write a flat explanation of what’s happening; instead, get into the POV character’s head and describe what he or she is seeing, hearing, thinking, smelling, tasting, etc.

Explanations tend to bore the reader, especially if they’re long and drawn out, and they make a story feel shallow and unbalanced. Sure, readers get what’s going on in the book, but they don’t experience it. Continue Reading…

Problematic POV—Characters’ Names, Thoughts, and Senses

This month we’re looking at Fatal Flaw # 5: POV Violations. Fiction writers often violate POV “rules,” and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their scenes. Last week we looked at how to accomplish smooth POV shifts. This week editor Christy Distler tackles issues that deal with the use of characters’ names, thoughts, and senses that wander out of POV. 

This month we’re talking about point of view (also known as POV). As Rachel said in the first post, POV “rules” have changed quite a bit over time. In the past few years, I’ve worked with several beginning writers, and I can say without a doubt that POV is the fiction-writing tenet that I spend the most time explaining.

Writers tend to be voracious readers, with many having reading lists full of literary classics (who can blame us?). The classics authors wrote during an era when “omniscient” point of view was commonly used, so my writers followed suit and used an omniscient POV (meaning the story was seemingly told from the point of view of an all-knowing narrator). Continue Reading…

The Two-Edged Sword of Backstory in Dialog

This week editor Christy Distler tackles Fatal Flaw #4—Too Much Backstory. In this month’s posts, we’ve been looking at the pitfalls of dumping backstory into our scenes and showing ways writers might creatively introduce important information pertaining to a character’s past or necessary to understand the world of the story.

In fiction, backstory is often given a bad name. Writers are barraged with all sorts of advice: Don’t start the story with backstory. Don’t info-dump your readers with backstory. Add backstory only sporadically through the story. The list could go on and on.

But the bottom line is, backstory is important. More than important, really—it’s essential to the story. Backstory builds realistic, multilayered characters. Without backstory, characters are difficult to connect with, for both the reader and the writer. The reader will be bored by their one-dimensionalness, and the writer will struggle to pen natural, apposite actions and reactions to the happenings in their characters’ lives.

And this is where some writers get confused. Backstory is integral . . . but its use is discouraged? Continue Reading…

Page 3 of 4«1234»