I wrote this real fast and I’m not sure how it came out so . . . here you are!!!
She eyed the mob screaming on the palace steps and fingered the gold ring in her skirt pocket.
Oh, this was bad. Very bad. Not that she could understand what they was saying, but it couldn’t be good.
Good thing she wasn’t responsible for this; she’d only arrived in the country just three days ago.
She rubbed the distinctive flat head of the ring. It was all good, she reassured herself. Everything was fine. She would get out of this.
“What they saying?” she asked. For a boy who thought they was twins, he sure was stupid.
He smiled at her, happy as a child with a handful of sugar. “Do you recall the temple we visited yesterday? A . . . an artifact, I suppose you would call it, disappeared from there yesterday.”
Horrified, she looked up into his bright purple eyes. How had they discovered it so soon? She had stolen it only hours ago, right before dawn. “But I thought . . . guess you was wrong about only the royal family being able to touch it. Just silly folktales afterall.”
He smiled, shook his head. “Come. You were stolen so young, you still don’t understand our ways. Your ways. Mother wishes to see you.”
I’ve been thinking about my writing style, but I don’t think I actually have one. Not in terms of sentence structure, feel or anything else, either. All those things change with the story. Maybe I’ve just never found my particular style.
The few times I’ve managed to infuse some sort of style in my stories, it’s related to the character or the setting or something.
I am thinking now that style could be another way to do exposition, to reveal things about character in a non-obvious way. It probably works best in first person POV, but could work pretty well in a third person limited POV, too.
Some of that is probably because I read/write mostly fantasy and lots of fantasy is written in the “transparent window pane” sort of style – plain and unobtrusive and not noticeable. The reader notices it as much as those birds who slam into windows in window cleaner commercials. (But with less pain!)
But not all of it because some fantasy writers do have a distinctive style. I know, because all of their books sound similar. You think it’s the characters’ voice. But it’s not, because the language is similar not only across many books and many different characters, but different series as well. Similar enough you know who the writer is with only a single sample page. I know with these writers the way the book is written reflects nothing about the character.
Some of this is probably because I’ve always tried to write in the POV character’s style rather than my own. I try to figure out a few words/phrases the character loves and use those in as varied a way as I can.
A part of me no doubt thought if my character had a way of speaking, preferred some words over others, liked to repeat certain phrases, liked to go on and on and on, there would be a reason and would go to illustrate their character. If they didn’t, it might be best to keep the style as neutral as possible.
What do you think? Can the style of a piece serve as exposition as well? Should it?
I haven’t written a word today. Just one of those days. And I don’t feel well enough to force myself to write.
But I’ve been pondering my protagonist’s character profile. He has a thing for art and exercise. I haven’t shown either in the WiP so far. I’ve just told it, breaking the cardinal rule of showing and not telling. They’re important enough to the character a part of me thinks they need to be shown.
Neither of those passions of the character are important to the character are important to the plot. So I need to find some very subtle way to work it in.
On Twitter I asked advice about what to do about minor, inconsistent characters.
A Twitter friend said I should write down everything I know about them and that can become a reference. That sounds like a character profile to me.
I haven’t created character profiles for the WiP yet. I could have, especially for the main character and the secondary characters I knew about. But I wanted to get on with it, you know? I didn’t want to stop and fiddle with an excel file or a word file for the characters. Instead, if I forget the eye color or something, I go back and look it up.
I need to create character profiles now. I’ll probably wait until the WiP is done or create it now. I haven’t made up my mind. I do know I’ll be using OneNote app on my tablet. I want to try it out and it seems perfect for this. Better than either excel or word.
Is doing it this way a bit weird? At least this way I’ll have a list of all characters that need a profile.
And I’ll know what kind of things I keep looking up: physical characteristics, descriptions of surroundings and stuff like that.
Also, the more nebulous, personal stuff that I know is changing right now from appearance to appearance for minor characters, the stuff that makes a character a character, and that stuff that needs to especially consistent. (Unless something happens to a character that makes them change, things that don’t usually happen to minor characters.)
It feels a little backward, to create them at the end of a novel instead of the beginning. Who else creates character profiles at the tail end of a WiP?
Last year, I read a short story by Juan Diaz. It had a few Spanish words in it.
I thought the words were explained by context. To a degree, they were. But not completely.
I found this out when a word I thought was a random curse word turned out to be not so random. It was a derogatory word for gay people. I didn’t know and I was very surprised when the character in question turned out to be gay. (The Spanish guy who told me was all, of course he is gay! Obviously!)
If Bollywood movies include English sentences, sometimes they will repeat it in Hindi. Sometimes, not always.
So . . . how do you use non-English words in fiction written in English? Is a general understanding of the word okay? Like when I knew it was a Spanish curse word and nothing else?
Or does not knowing the exact meaning of the word harm your understanding of the story?