Posted by: victanguera | February 10, 2010

Writing Prompt #138

I tend to under write, using too few words rather than too many. This leaves my reader in confusion, unable to figure out where they are or what is going on. I’ve re-written my draft multiple times, and the issue still remains.

Yesterday, trying to find answers to that question, I came across The Bookshelf Muse. She has a thesaurus of sights and sounds for different settings and emotions. Hum, that’s helpful.

So for today’s prompt, I’d like to spend time on how to ground the reader in a scene. How many words does it take? Can you ground a reader and still create tension? How do these two things balance out? I’ll start by posting the opening from my WIP (groundless as it is), and you can comment on areas that you think could use more detail/clarification.

Three perfect drops of blood trickled with a satisfying swirl of red into my coffee cup. I licked my finger, sealing over the two puncture marks and turned around to watch the crowded dance floor. I sipped the beverage and it hit my stomach with the force of a cyclone. The infusion of my blood would make sure it stayed there.

When I opened them again, Drew sat on a barstool across from me. He smiled, a weak unenthusiastic gesture. Without waiting for him to order, I popped the cap off a Corona, poured half of it down the inside of a chilled glass and added a slice of lime. I pushed the foamy beverage across the counter. He gripped the glass, staring at the contents as if the beer might save his life.

As the humans gyrated on the dance floor to loud punk music, their scent permeated everything. My clothes, my hair, even the gleaming mahogany of the bar. The monster inside me uncurled, luxuriating in the smell. I shut my eyes, shoving away the notion I should feed from my patrons.

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Responses

  1. Hi!

    Just found your blog through blogged.com and thought I’d comment. 🙂

    This sounds like it could be a pretty interesting story about some sort of human-ish monster (a vampire, werewolf, or another type of transformative being). I do feel that–assuming this is the introduction to a novel– there’s a bit too much *important* information about the characters so soon.

    The first Paragraph gives the impression that the narrator isn’t just your average human being, which is surely interesting enough to keep most people reading.

    In the second paragraph–while the first bit doesn’t seem to make any sense; when you opened what again? I could assume you mean your eyes, but then, you never did say you’d closed them– your pacing is equally well done. It introduces a character without telling their whole story.

    The third paragraph, I feel is a bit misplaced, as I now feel like I don’t need to read anymore of the story in order to understand the character.

    A good novel will reveal the important details over time; this “I’m not a human, but I’d like to drink their blood” concept might be better suited for, say, the end of a first chapter. You can keep the reader interested by providing action beyond that of the main characters.

    Set the scene a little more, by giving life to the secondary (and even tertiary) characters. Imagine someone in the bar breaks a glass and that startles Drew, which prompts the narrator to ask why he’s so on edge…

    I’m not suggesting you use this exact example, I just mean that there has to be a sense of life beyond the main characters, in order to create a multi-dimensional scene.

    Good luck with this. I hope it turns out well, for you! 🙂

    • Thanks. That is extremely helpful. I keep hearing that the pacing is off, but you’ve given me a very concrete idea how to fix it. It makes so much sense to start developing those secondary characters to ground the reader.


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