Tag Archives: mapleseed

Writer’s Log: 1846

[RE: Iced, in reply to my editor…]

This story is one where I’m trying to put my big-boy pants on and write to a bit higher age level. It’s still not fully “adult” yet, despite the cursing.

There is one writing factor that I’ve recently been trying to internalize which I’ll be attempting to apply across the board. This is the avoidance of any explanation of a character’s mind or emotional state. The best writers somehow avoid this lazy writing and use only description and dialog to portray whatever is going on inside a characters mind. But for a neophyte writer, it’s natural to want the reader to understand precisely what character X is feeling — so why not just tell the reader?

~~~
Normally, Travis seethed with anger. He’d failed six times to finish the Iron Man race but, this morning, depression sucked him deeper into the nest of bedding he’d swum in all night.
~~~

Easy to write, but explaining this situation distances the reader. The reader doesn’t have to do any work, any distillation of the scene to understand Travis’ mind.
The problem, now, is that to convert that “telling” scene into a “showing” scene will take some doing. Will take some work on the author’s part to place Travis in a situation where these same emotions become evident through his actions and speech.

~~~
It was eleven pm and Travis still sat at the bar tapping his fingernail on his empty glass. He glared at the sportscaster describing the results from the twenty-first Maui Open. “Fuck,” he mumbled. He’d been forced to pull out of the race that afternoon, exhausted. “I should just give up, right Joe?” Joe wasn’t listening; hadn’t listened all night. Travis walked home the ten blocks and fell into fitful sleep. Cheerful Hawaiian birds woke him at dawn. He lay there, eyes wide, a frown chiseled into his face. I’m just not cut out for this, he thought.
“Get up, Trav,” his brother called from the kitchen. “So what you had to quit again. Now you know six ways the Iron Gods will beat you down.”
Travis cracked his frown, stretched it into a grimace and threw off his bedding. He swiveled upright and attached his artificial leg. “Go to hell, Drew.” He clumped from the room to start another day of training.
~~~

More writing to get the emotions out, but the reader had to figure them out, had to participate.

That is the lesson I’m trying to teach myself now.

~~~

Second attempt at version #2. Not much shorter (19 words). A few extraneous details were pulled. I like Joe ignoring him and the birds waking him up.

It was eleven pm and Travis still sat at the bar glaring at the sportscaster describing the results from the twenty-first Maui Open. “Fuck,” he mumbled. He’d been forced to pull out of the race that afternoon, exhausted. “I should just give up, right Joe?” Joe wasn’t listening; hadn’t listened all night. Travis walked home the ten blocks and fell into fitful sleep. Cheerful Hawaiian birds woke him at dawn. He lay there, a frown chiseled into his face. I’m just not cut out for this.
“Get up, Trav,” his brother called from the kitchen. “So what you had to quit again. Now you know six ways the Iron Gods will beat you down.”
Travis grimaced and threw off his bedding. He swiveled upright and attached his artificial leg. “Go to hell, Drew.” He clumped from the room to start another day of training.