Mon 04 February 2019

James Jackson - Introduction to Writing - Part 2

Posted by. James Jackson This article was posted in Next Gen Writers and tagged with TeamTerran, Introduction to Writing, Learning Writing, Novel Writing Process
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Introduction to Writing – Part Two: My Writing Process

This post introduces the audience to my writing process where I briefly explore working toward the elusive First Draft, Sentence Structure & Pace, Emotions and how I Building Characters.

 

  TeamTerran with James Jackson ready for his speech at the MRA 2017 ConferenceFirst Draft

Completing the first draft of a story is critical; how each writer gets there varies, but getting there is a major accomplishment. Many prospective writers become discouraged as this step can feel as though it is never ending. Just remember the bucket that is filling with water, and keep on going.

 

Sentence Structure and Pace

I consider many elements when drafting a section. Shorter words and sentences make for faster reading, causing action scenes to fly by. Longer words and sentences slow a reader, allowing them to get a brief mental respite. In addition, I am always considering what emotion I am trying to elicit from the words that go down. Do I want my readers excited, happy, scared, anguished, or melancholy?

Let me explore a small section, then elaborate.

Team Terran's core members are Jason Williams, Shannon Ostrander, and Jeff Bradley. These three people are tireless supporters who have been with me from the beginning, way back in 2010.

Radclyf stares at his computer, his light brown eyes wide in disbelief. This email is for the most secret group of SAS in the United Kingdom, and here he is, receiving a message. Running his fingers through his short brown hair, he reads the missive telling him that he and his group are disbanded.

By selecting words like 'missive', I am intentionally slowing readers down, and yet I am keeping the sentences a moderate length, to generate and maintain a little pace.

This following section reads much faster, due to the shorter sentence structure.

"All four of us? Well, that's better then. Let's get moving. We have ferries to catch." Radclyf's mood lightens, secret missions are his favorite.

It is crucial to get the right flow and speed for the moment.

 

Emotions

Another factor to consider is what emotion or emotions do we want a reader to feel as they delve into the story. In this section, through selective word choice, we should feel Radclyf's anguish,

His face contorts as feelings he has kept to himself for many years can no longer be contained. No one hears his quiet mumbling through his quivering lips, "My dearest Polly. I am so sorry, and now it's too late."

We can almost feel the man's pain as he struggles to maintain his self-control. 

In this next section, we have a short sentence, followed by a longer sentence.

The steady impact of weapons' fire against the Terran increases. Small thumps cause the ship to shudder, while powerful lasers carve the Terran's hull apart as easily as a warm knife slides through butter.

We should feel some foreboding with this section. Things are clearly not going well.

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Character Building

Another decision is in regards to character building. Some writers expound their character's virtues in one slab. I decided to spread mine over the series, giving tantalizing glimpses here and there.

I will use the character Radclyf as an example. The readers are introduced to him in book one, where we learn that he is British, and leads an elite team of special forces. In book two he is humming a tune, one of missing home. Book three adds to his combat prowess, while in book four we discover that he has a sweetheart, and the reason he was humming!

I could have introduced Radclyf's sweetheart in book one, but decided to build on his character slowly, adding more and more as the series progresses.

How writers reveal their characters, is entirely up to them. The style choice will be enjoyed by some readers, but not by all, and that's okay.

 

This brings us to the end of Part Two!

 

Take it easy mates.

James Jackson