GSRWA Bullies

Not that GSRWA members are bullies. Just the opposite–this is a great, supportive group.

Last Saturday we kicked off 2011 with a special all-day workshop presented by Jessica Morrell, the author of Bullies, Bastartds and Bitches among other books.

It was a terrific day and Jessica gave us much to think about when writing a novel. As you might expect, much of the day focused on developing characters. Specifically–“bad ass” characters, whether they are protagonists, antagonists or villains.

But Jessica started the day by giving us some things to keep in mind while creating a novel and I’d like to pass these ideas on to you.

First, she pointed out that readers sub-vocalize when they read. This is something I’ve always known, but had never had a way to articulate it. What she means is, the reader has a silent-voice speaking the author’s word in her head. This is why language–word choice, sentence structure even punctuation is so important.

This is the place where a novel must be like music. (That’s my take on it, not what JM said.)

The reader will also have an inner movie screen in her head. It is the author’s job to get the film rolling as soon as possible. (JM’s admonition).

Next, she advised that we want the story to linger in the reader’s imagination.

Reader’s attention is so divided in our culture with all the entertainment choices we have available. We must create more dramatic and more visual fiction than in the past. Readers need more sensory information to create a visual experience that keeps them in a book rather than turning on the tube.

At the same time, we must realize that readers are very sophisticated these days and have had a lot of experiences. They need to be reminded of what they already know, not lectured with facts about the world. This is very different than writing in the 18th or 19th centuries for an audience that may never have traveled ten miles from home.

She used the example of an elephant. A 19th century author would need to describe an elephant in great detail for the reader to picture the beast. These days, most readers have seen an elephant. All a modern writer need do is write “elephant” and the reader is picturing the animal.

Nothing earth-shattering in these points. I’ve heard the idea of the inner movie screen before and the idea that readers today have a lot of distractions. It’s always good to be reminded of these things as I work on creating stories I hope folks will enjoy reading.

Would you rather see a movie on the big screen, or read a book that plays like a movie inside your head?

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