What does an introvert party-goer know about writing scenes? A lot it seems.
- ARRIVE LATE
First of all, just like our party goer, don’t arrive too early in your scene (or your whole book for that matter). Arrive as late as you can at the party – ie just before the candles are lit, the speeches are made, all the important stuff happens. Same with scenes/stories/books. Don’t make the reader wade through a whole lot of unnecessary small talk/backstory. Instead cut right to the chase. Enter the scene just when the really big thing is about to happen. In fancy terms this is called In Media Res -or as I like to call it – CUT TO THE CHASE. Get rid of any unnecessary lead up and get us to the most important moment, that inciting incident or plot twist or heart-clutching moment as soon as you can.
- FIND THE HOST
Much as the introvert needs to survey the party’s landscape to find a route to the host, the writer needs to ground the reader in where the scene is taking place and show us who our host is for the scene. Who is the Point of View Character? Make it clear early whose perspective we’re in. The easiest way to choose your POV character is by choosing the character who has most to lose. Make sure the reader knows whose side we’re on and get that introvert over to the host so their presence is registered.
Now introverts aren’t exactly known for being the life of the party, but getting out on the dancefloor makes your presence very visible and everyone will remember you being at the party. When writing our scene/story, we want some ACTION, no just hanging around the backstory or hiding out in the kitchen/interior monologue. Instead move straight into some action. Dialogue is action. Your characters interacting is action. Movement towards plot goals or against them is action. Leet your reader know you’ve arrived at the party.
- LEAVE EARLY
Yes, that’s the ultimate introvert party goer trick. You’ve turned up, found the host, made sure everyone knew you were there by dancing, then, as soon as the candles are blown out, you’re off! Same with your scene/story. Once you’ve hit the climax or key turning point in your scene, don’t wear out your welcome by overanalysing the action or rambling on about the deeper meaning for paragraphs. Just leave. Readers are intelligent folk. Let them figure out what it all means themselves. So writers, hit your climax, then get out of there fast! Move on to the next scene and apply the same rules.
Early on in my writing career I was lucky enough to win a mentorship with esteemed editor Judith Lukin-Amundsen who has worked with Kate Grenville and Tim Winton. The first task she assigned me was to go through the whole manuscript and cut at least 10%. Then she made me go through and examine each paragraph and cut the first and last sentences! I tried to be good and do exactly as she said and mostly it made those paragraphs sing, but sometimes I kept my darlings, the precious ones. So, as with any advice, follow your own gut instincts. Try out the advice, see if it works for you and if it does, then BINGO! If it doesn’t, fiddle around with it and adapt it to suit your purposes.
So party goers and writers all, try out this method for parties, and writing, and see how you go. Let me know! Did it work for you?
Keep smiling fellow writers. The world is still a beautiful place and stories are valuable and important. Your voice is valuable and important.
Lots of love,
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