Writing Tip: Second Best of the Week

Okay, this is a quickie, folks.  I’ve been writing all day, and all day the day before that, and all day the day before that, and, well, you get the idea.

The bad news about all this writing is that I’m exhausted.

The good news is that I keep remembering useful writing tips.

Today’s writing tip is: start far in.

Start as far in to the scene as you possibly can.  This actually applies to non-fiction, too. 

For instance, if you have a character in a scene who is having a phone conversation, skip the phone call itself and show her hanging up the phone, remembering briefly what was said.  Of course this brings up the topic of how to choose what to lend weight to by mounting it in a scene, or what to gloss over a bit by writing in exposition.

I generally do this by intuition.

I know, that doesn’t help you much.  A friend who I haven’t seen in ages, used to always quote the late Gary Provost on this: "fast is slow and slow is fast," and that is a pretty good guideline.

For instance, if when you are writing fast, as in glossing over in exposition, you are generally writing about something that would have been slow in real life, or if mounted in a scene–like the above-mentioned phone call. 

When writing slow, as in a scene, you would be writing about something that happened quickly in real life–such as a car chase or a sex scene (I guess the relative quickness of that depends on the participants), or important dialogue.  The point is, you write something that takes longer or is slower when the information is more important and deserves being presented in the fine detail of a scene.

One of the best ways to sharpen up a scene is to start as far in as possible.  When I wear my editor’s hat, one of the most common problems I see is that people spend page after page warming up.  Cut to the chase.  Get to the good stuff.  Start far in.

PS–Next installment of Make Money Writing Online (which is actually the second half of Chapter Three) coming up later on today.

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