Tag Archive - The Rule of Three

How the Rule of Three Can Help Writers Avoid Backstory Slumps

This week editor Linda Clare 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. 

When you use backstory in fiction to deepen characterization or add information about the story, it’s easy for readers to become confused. If readers enter a flashback or backstory and wonder when or where they are supposed to be, confusion often turns to frustration and they stop reading. That’s why it’s so important to craft backstory in an effective way.

Backstory is any narrative passage or scene which occurred in time before the “present-time story.” Your POV character is in a scene when her “mind reels back.” How can readers keep a firm understanding of when and where, in time and space, the story takes them? Continue Reading…

The Devil’s in the Details

We’re continuing our look at Fatal Flaw # 1: Overwriting. Fiction writers often overwrite, and have trouble seeing how this manifests in their prose. Last week we looked at wordiness and redundancy. This week editor Linda Clare explores this topic further to help you determine which details in your scenes are important and which can be tossed.

The world is full of details—and good writers notice them perpetually. Yet when you introduce your created world to readers, it’s easy to get carried away. Let’s take a look at how overwriting, or including too many details, can derail your scenes and lose readers.

You Are the Manager

As a fiction writer, you are a manager. You hold the power to guide your readers, managing their attention and memory. By stressing a certain detail or event, you are managing readers by sending the message: “Pay attention to this. Remember this.”

If you attempt to write a scene that includes a blow-by-blow account of what is happening, it may mirror real life, but readers will not know which details matter to the story and which are incidental. If you overload readers with stimuli, they won’t know what to pay attention to and what to ignore. If you understand this, it’s easier to remind yourself to write only what the readers need to know, with a few “extra sprinkles” of concrete sensory detail (CSD) to help make the scene believable. Continue Reading…