Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trust the story

I'm going to be posting a few scenes from student writers. These are from Creative Writing 1 students, so they're a little raw, but they all have some value, and they all illustrate some points about writing.

Gillespie was half way down the street when he heard Gracie calling for him. “You are still going after Edwin, after what I had told you?”
“The stars can’t always be right, they couldn’t even give you the correct time of my arrival!” Gillespie triumphantly proclaimed. “That’s not the point you fool! Look at everything around you, nature and all its beauty. Are you willing to risk never being able to appreciate this?” Gracie asked as she held her arms open and had her palms pointing up towards the sky. In that moment, Gillespie’s focus was caught by a butterfly, floating towards shrubberies with hummingbirds suspended at their blossoms. All the colors -- red, pink, blue, turquoise, orange -- overwhelmed him as he felt a lump in his throat approaching. A family of deer were grazing peacefully on the foliage in the background under the shade of the deciduous forest that Gillespie was on the outskirts of. In that same instance, Gracie and Gillespie caught sight of a pack of wolves stalking the deer under the cover of the forest, waiting for the right time to strike. Like a bolt of lightning, the wolves pounced on their prey, ambushing from every direction, tearing the deer limb from limb. With admiration for the grotesque carnage, Gillespie regained focus and remembered Edwin’s favorite place to hang out. A little bar by the docks called The Lone Wolf. He felt even more ready as the only thing on his mind was taking back what Edwin had stole from him: his dignity.
“See Gracie, in order to truly appreciate nature in all its beauty, you also must bear witness some of nature’s atrocities.” Gillespie said as he walked off, in search of his culprit. “Yes, but are you the witnessing an atrocity or are you the atrocity?” Gracie said to herself as Gillespie walked.

The point here -- trust the story. As much as you can, let it tell itself -- don't feel that you constantly have to step in and explain it. For instance:

You don't need to tell us that "Gracie and Gillespie caught sight of" -- we know they're there, and we know we're seeing what they're seeing. We don't need to be told that it's grotesque carnage, we can see it. And we don't need to be told Gillespie admires it -- we get that from the dialog. We don't need to be told Gillespie regains focus -- we see him regaining it.

Also "triumphantly proclaimed" and "In that moment" -- just keep remembering you don't have to give the reader all those signposts -- the story will do it.

You have all the good stuff here -- you just need to trust it.

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