So excited to have with us YA author Sherry Soule. Her book 'Beautifully Broken' is being released on July 1st. She is here to talk to us today about the pitfalls of introspection, and how to know how much is too much.
The info dump is one of the worst offenses you can make as a writer. Introspection and backstory should be elegantly woven into the story. Do not ramble on for long paragraphs at a time, or dump it. (Hence, the phrase info dumps because you're dumping information on the page in long blocks of text.) It's bad because it's jarring for the reader. It takes the reader out of the story because it reminds the reader that they're reading and the author has intruded. A concise paragraph here or there is fine. Subtly is the key.
According to author Ken Follett, there are three qualities a storyteller needs above all others. He/she must be (a) imaginative, (b) literate, and (c) stubborn. But you can have all three and still write a bad book.
Follett humbly admits in one "writing" book I read that he wrote a few bad books. When he was starting out. (Hard to imagine, huh?) Yet, if I'm being honest, I have to admit that I've also written a couple of bad novels. And had them published. *cringe* Ah, but that was many, many moons ago before I sharpened my writing skills and studied the art of fiction writing with a crazed intensity. My writing has vastly improved and my pacing became tight and fast-paced. The hard work paid off. My debut novel, BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN has found a publisher.
Recently, I've purchased several books on copyediting in book publishing and grammar to fine-tune my skills and broaden my understanding of the craft. I am the type of person who dives headfirst into anything I am passionate about. Editing has given me great insight into how to be a better writer and sharpen my own skills. Software programs that indicate pacing and clichés are my tools to perfect and tighten my prose. Reading other copyeditors, agents, and author blogs has also being very enlightening--there's so much great information out there for struggling writers to use.
Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. A wise author understands and notices their weak areas and strives to correct them. I like to think I'm good at building tension and suspense, but I realize I struggle with narrative arc. That's my weakness, my Kryptonite. I suck at creating and building a character arc. What are yours?
Recognizing the strength and weakness in your MS can greatly improve your skills as a writer. And please, find a crit partner and beta readers. I don't care if you're already published a book, having a writing buddy look over your work is important. This kind of feedback is invaluable to any writer at any stage in their career. Be open-minded, even with the negative stuff. Even if you disagree. Think of your readers. Kill your darlings. Show and don't tell. Be ruthless in your edits. And above all...avoid author intrusion.
That said, please try to condense long blocks of internal monologue. Author, Linda Sue Park has great advice on this; she gives herself no more than three sentences. That’s all. If she finds places in her novel where a character is just thinking to himself or describing something, and goes on for more than three sentences, she knows it's time to revise and get things moving again.
A major nuisance of too much introspection within a story means it brings your novel to a screeching halt. Remember, it makes sense to work darned hard to make sure that every chapter ends with narrative that escalates the tension and moves the plot forward. Go through your MS and read the last paragraph of every chapter then revise it to make it sizzle and has some action. Not lengthy inner-monologue or info dumps—please. Or you’ll find the reader putting your story down—never to return.
Where you can find Sherry:
Book Trailer on YouTube
Don't forget to comment for a chance to win a free copy of Beautifully Broken!