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Tip Tuesday #108

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where writers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today's tip was sent in by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban (Tip #99), author of Two Moon Princess, who blogs at Dare to Read. Please visit her blog to see what she's up to when you're done visiting here.

Know Your Story

Only 1/9th of the mass of an iceberg is visible and so it must be with your story.

You must know your characters. You must know their likes and dislikes, you must know what happened to them before the story starts. You must know what they are doing and where they are at all times, even when these scenes don't appear in the book.

You must know your setting from the tallest mountain to the tiniest scratch on your protagonist's cell phone's screen. Even if it's never mentioned.

Only because this hidden 8/9th portion of the iceberg is there hidden under the water, can the iceberg float so seemingly effortless on the ocean.

To forget this mass of ice exists can be deadly. Not to have a thorough knowledge of everything and everyone in your story will create holes in your plot and contradictions in your descriptions that can destroy the credibility of your reader.

Remember what happened to the Titanic.

~Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

16 comments:

  1. I love how this tip is worded. It's just perfect!

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  2. Awesome tip. It is so important to know all this even though you know it won't get into the story. Love the iceberg analogy.

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  3. Thank you Elizabeth, Natalie and Marta for your comments.

    I thought of the iceberg analogy all by myself. I promise. So imagine my surprise when I came upon this quote from Hemingway at http://www.lostgeneration.com/hemfaq.htm#iceberg.

    In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway outlined his "theory of omission" or "iceberg principle." He states: "If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. The writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing."

    The truth is I never read Death in the Afternoon.

    So strange.

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  4. What a perfect analogy. Thank you for this!

    So, I've been poking around the Pottermore website (blogged about it, too) and the thing that gets me are ALL of the side stories JK Rowling had "written," in her brain, that never actually made it into the books. She's got them all throughout Pottermore. She called them "ghost plots."

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  5. It's so true! It's a problem I'm having with a couple elements of the story I'm writing. I've been considering taking a break and just writing down stuff about the characters and the world

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  6. I love this analogy, and it is so true! <3

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  7. great post and awesome analogy.

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  8. Ooh, great post! I agree. Knowing every scratch of the story makes the story complete and there are no holes. Thanks for the refresher! ;)


    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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  9. So very true. It is easy to superficial with the characters and it shows very well in the book. Especially when the character needs a twist...becomes very difficult to manage it without putting off the readers. Great post!

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  10. Very true. Most will never make it into the book, but it will show if it was never created at all.

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  11. I loved the iceberg analogy. Makes you see how important the background and details are, even if they are only known to you. Great tip!

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  12. Great analogy with the iceberg and showing that Hemingway had shared a similar thought about it is an indicator of how timeless this kind of advice/tip can be.

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  13. I so love this analogy. That Hemingway quote is awesome, too!

    Thanks again, Carmen, for sharing this with us.

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