Tag Archive - Rachel Starr Thomson

How Writers Can Be Storyshowers instead of Storytellers

Editor Rachel Starr Thomson dives into our new monthly fatal flaw: # 6 Telling, instead of Showing, Story . Writers often succumb to this fatal flaw of fiction writing, explaining and telling and summarizing instead of showing action as it’s happening. Topics this week cover three ways writers can RUE (resist the urge to explain) and hook readers will dynamic scenes.

Once upon a time, we were storytellers.

We wrote like Homer:

The men flew to arms;

all the gates were opened, and the people thronged through them,

horse and foot, with the tramp as of a great multitude.

Or like whoever wrote Beowulf:

Hwæt! w? G?r-Dena in ge?r-dagum

þ?od-cyninga þrym gefr?non . . .

Okay, never mind about Beowful. The point is, stories were told, and while that meant some especially poetic details were thrown in, for the most part stories got summarized, with huge swaths of action happening from a long-distance view, like in the Iliad above. Continue Reading…

Whose Head? Point of View in Fiction

This month we begin looking at Fatal Flaw # 5: POV Violations. Fiction writers often violate POV (point of view) “rules,” and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their scenes. Editor Rachel Starr Thomson introduces this month’s topic and explains the problems inherent in head hopping.

The commonly heard phrase “Well, from my point of view” expresses something central to human existence: our whole experience of life is bounded by the fact that we are trapped in our own heads.

Life is all about point of view. Fiction, which emulates life, is too.

How authors handle point of view has changed dramatically since the days of Robinson Crusoe. A hundred years ago the usual convention was to write “omnisciently” (more about this in a future post), from the point of view of an all-knowing, all-seeing narrator, who might be the author or possibly some kind of god. Continue Reading…

Weaving It In: Backstory in Fiction

This week editor Rachel Starr Thomson tackles Fatal Flaw #4—Too Much Backstory. In this month’s posts, we’re 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. Backstory dumping is one of the most common and egregious flaws of fiction writing, so be sure to pay close attention to all this month’s posts!

Backstory creates an interesting problem for writers. It’s an absolute necessity in good fiction—a good thing. Just as you and I have a backstory of our own, so do our characters, and it’s often from that backstory that key plot points—or the whole plot—arise. Backstory lends richness and depth to our stories and the people who populate them.

Given all that, why do I say backstory creates a problem?

Continue Reading…

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