Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pro Opinions (or Y I RACWI)

Tip of the Day: If you'll be in Western NY on Saturday, November 7, check out the Rochester Children's Book Fest!

My local SCBWI chapter contains the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators (RACWI) and I feel so fortunate to be part of this group! Not only are the kidlit writers talented and friendly, but they are helpful and put on the amazing Rochester Children's Book Fest!

At our last meeting, we got into small groups and discussed problems we know we have with our writing, the business, etc., and the other group members offered their 2 cents. My writing question to the group was, "How do you balance the right amount of setting details with rest of the novel? (How do you make sure that the novel isn't bogged down with environmental descriptions, yet there are enough so that the reader can see what is in your head?)"

Here are some of the helpful responses and suggestions I received:

1) Sprinkle details in small batches, 2-3 sentences or so, around the ms.
2) Write out every setting detail you see in your head in a separate doc, then transfer the relevent bits over to the main doc where appropriate.
3) In a separate doc (after a complete draft/scene is written), write a list of every detail that was included, then a list beside that of what is still important and has not been added in yet.
4) Use the five senses in every scene.

Thanks again, RACWI friends!

Anyone else have any more suggestions for me on making the setting clear yet seamless with the rest of the novel?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Shannon Messenger said...

I always try to ask myself "why does the reader need to know this?" Because let's face it--there's pretty much an endless amount of details you can give. So if I describe the curtains....why does the reader need to know this? Will those curtains somehow turn out to be important?

Usually the answer is "no" and in that case I either remove that detail and go with a shorter description or l add something that might be a better use of those words, like the view from the window or a knick-knack that tells something about the character. It works for me, anyway.

Kate Fall said...

I like to know where the characters are in a scene too. Standing? Sitting? Who's sitting next to who? So I like to describe that part of the setting.