Monday, November 1, 2010

Crit Dare Day 10 - Making Details Carry Their Weight

The issue I'm having with Chapter 12 is that it is a light-weight chapter with one important thing in it. One way to deal with that is to cut everything but the most important thing and merge it with another chapter and move on.

But with a mystery, a light-weight chapter is also an opportunity. This is true of every blank spot and every boring bit. You can cut them out or you can make them way more interesting as better ideas come along later. Consider a boring bit to be a place holder for those later inspirations.

This is important in a mystery, because we've got so much subtle stuff we have to weave together. You need a little space to maneuver.

I just sat down and planned out a wonderful flow to the chapter, but it was just a string of pearls. It went from here to here to here. And that's pretty good because I have been struggling for a while with this chapter. But now that I have all those nice bits, I can see how I can use them to better advantage. This bit doesn't just mislead the audience about something, it also works as a transition. That bit puts in a joke right where we need some relief, but it also gives us some information we'll need later. Oh, and these two bits could be blended together, and then I won't have to interrupt THAT bit later on.

A good detail or turn will provide many layers of satisfaction. It will move the plot forward, it will give us information, develop a character, maybe even give us insight beyond the direct plot of the story. It will help the pacing of the story - speeding things up or slowing them down in just the right way. And most of all every bit will set up what comes after.

You can usually rewrite some extra layers in, but IMHO, it's always good to be weaving these details while you create the story. It's a lot of work, but sometimes if you take your time in getting a sequence right, you will have something much more wonderful in the end.

So anyway.... Chapter 12 is not ready to submit for critique, but it is now on it's way to being something more than adequate. (And the development on it has pushed forward a lot of the rest of the story too.)


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Good point about the importance of details in a mystery. You're right--we have such a limited amount of space in a mystery to put all our elements in that we really don't have any extra room for fluff. Details pull their weight in our stories. :)

The Daring Novelist said...

And the GREAT thing about mysteries is that even fluff can pull its weight!

Fluff is a wonderful disguise for information, clues and misdirections!