Kristin Lenz is a writer and social worker who contributes to the YA Fusion group blog. This week she shares advice about writing flashback scenes, and she has several giveaways, including an ARC of Emily Murdoch's debut YA/Adult crossover novel, If You Find Me. Please visit her at YA Fusion, but first, here's Kristin's tip:
I’m taking an online writing course with author Tim Wynne-Jones as my mentor/instructor. Tim’s academic home is the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he’s taught for over ten years in the Writing for Children and Young Adults two-year MFA, low-residency program. But he also teaches through Humber University in Toronto where students are paired with a mentor who critiques up to 300 pages of a manuscript. I was thrilled to be matched with Tim. Here’s a small sample of what I’ve been learning over the past couple of months.
As much as I think I understand the show-don’t-tell rule, Tim pointed out that I’m writing way too much in summary. “When you tell the story in summary, it’s more like listening to the news.” We might feel sympathy or outrage, but we don’t become embroiled in the story. “We don’t read stories for the news, we read stories so that we can eavesdrop – listen in. We learn who those characters are by what they say and do. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown conversation, but keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to take readers more deeply into the story.” In other words, let the reader be a fly on the wall, and better yet, let them walk in your character’s shoes.
I already knew about the importance of white space in a story, and truly thought I was including enough dialogue. This is especially interesting because I am a quiet, introverted person. I spend a lot of time in my head. And as much as I deliberately try to make my characters’ different from me, they too spend a lot of time in their head. On many pages of my manuscript, Tim wrote, “This needs to be said out loud.” Or “What is she waiting for?” Or simply, “Dialogue.”
Blogger Joanne Fritz recently interviewed Newbery honor winning author Kirby Larson and asked her advice on revising a rough draft. Kirby’s advice was similar to Tim’s. She advises, “scout the manuscript for narrative chunks: such chunks probably indicate telling, rather than scene-building. Convert those sections to scenes and you're most of the way there!” Read the rest of her advice here.
For more about the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the Humber University writing programs, go here:
Have a great week!