Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Using Narrative For Improving Depth In Your Writing

One of the reasons I have for passing on stories is the lack of depth. In other words, the story is lacking a real development of the character and the plot. The end result is a story that feels flat and leaves the reader with a lot of questions. In most of the cases, when I have seen this in the writing, the author has simply not used the narration in the story to the fullest potential. This can be either weak narration that tells and does not show, or relying more on dialogue and having little or no narration.

I do know that many authors tend to shy away from narration because they have been told to keep the story moving, and to show and not tell. Both of these ideas are indeed true and authors do have to focus on this. The problem however, is that authors, in an attempt to fix these problems, they have eliminated the power the narration has to enhance the story.

When we focus entirely on dialogue, we are getting a limited view of the story. We only "hear" what is going on. If, however, we can get into the mind of the characters and let their true feelings and emotions take place, we get a fully developed three-dimensional character. We can learn a bit more of why the characters are acting that way, and what, in their past has shaped who they are. You can now go into greater detail of how they are feeling. Simply using dialogue means you are limited to adjectives, adverbs and dialogue tags. These are fine for a quick pulse check of the character, but that is all that we get.

The narration also gives us a well-rounded view of the world you have put your characters. Using all of the senses will tell us what your Small Town, USA looks like and feels like. The world comes alive for us. Let us walk down Main Street with your character and show us everything your character is seeing and experiencing at that moment. Let us feel the Spring breeze coming over the river bank. Let us hear the food being prepped in the back of the small cafe. Invite us into the used book store and the smell of paperbacks and the coffee brewing in the Mr. Coffee behind the counter.

As I said, many authors avoid using narration for the simple fact they think it will slow the story down. In fact, it does slow things down, but there is nothing wrong with this. By giving the reader a few moments to digest the last dialogue the characters had works. Think of it like letting the prime rib "rest" before cutting into it.

Now, if you have too much narration, you do indeed run into a lot of problems. Readers can only handle so much of this insight. Therefore, you have to find a happy medium between too much and too little.

If you are someone who has avoided this in the past, I encourage you to rethink your approach. You may be pleasantly surprised with the result.

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