Friday, April 3, 2009

Lacking Depth

This is a comment that I am frequently having to put in rejection letters to writers. The story is simply lacking depth.

What do I mean by this? The idea is rather simple. In many ways, it relates back to the idea of telling vs. showing. In other words, the writer has left out a lot of critical information that would round out the story and give it a bit more of a three dimensional feel to it. At this point, it would read more like a summary.

Think about your synopses. These lack depth, but they are supposed to. In other words, you are simply providing the plot to the story and giving the reader an idea of where things are going to. Within your story, we want to know more than simply what is going on. We want to see all that is going on around the story and the characters.

I always like to use the idea of multiple camera angles using cameras with high quality lenses with this. If you are thinking of a movie with depth, the cinematographer has been able to show the audience the small details of everything going on around the characters. Although the characters take the center stage, your eye is getting a full picture of the world the characters live in. I love watching the scenes in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice when you follow the camera as if you are a person right there in the movie with the characters. The first is in the opening scene but I personally think the party scene is the best. As you move through the ball room, you listen into snippets of conversation, watch actions of people and get everything. This is depth.

Now, where many writers fail in this is what they add to the stories. When we say depth, we don't need more scenes. Granted, adding more of the same makes the story longer, but we still don't have the depth we were looking for. What we want is more with the existing scenes.

To do this, go back to your senses. Use all of your senses to give the reader a 3-dimensional image. Along the same lines, go back to the GMC in your story. We need to really know what drives those characters but please don't just tell us. Show us. Finally, use that narration and introspection to let us into the minds of the characters.

Best of luck!


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