Sunday, May 15, 2011
Writing Tip of the Day -- Keep it Simple
I am editing a new book titled Miss Fannie Mae's Girls. This uncomplicated story is about death and rebirth. It's not terribly new or profound; however, the story is peppered with a cast of extremely colorful and delightful characters. So you could say this is a character-driven piece. Many writers often try to over think their story lines, trying to razzle-dazzle their readers with special effects and new ideas. I am sure, however, you've heard there are no new ideas. I actually think Shakespeare covered the ideas pretty well way back when. It is how you put together your story and how you paint canvas that makes it unique and special. Miss Fannie Mae's Girls is the perfect example, because new author Larry Batchelor takes the simple premise of a family reuniting to grieve over the loss of the matriarch, whom we never officially interact with in the story, and then heal old wounds and go on to celebrate the marriage of one of the sisters. It is how the author executes the story; how he paints the nuances of the characters; and ultimately his voice that you can so strongly hear as the narrator that makes this book special and unique. Writers hoping to press on and write that special novel might take a lesson from this book. The simplicity of the overall story creates the canvas only to be painted by well-developed characters. So, as you sit down to consider what you might write about, try not to get overly complex about it. Focus more on your people and situations. I always say my best work has come out of the story that I could explain in a single sentence.