On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Your Job -- Clarity

I was reading a contest entry and was confused with the set-up. When I realized what was going on, I also understood that had I picked up on the last names of the characters, I wouldn't have been so confused about the relationships. However, in this particular instance, I think that the writer needs to be more up front with STATING the relationships. Being subtle can cause confusion. It's your job to ensure the reader is clear and if that means stating something -- "My niece So-and-So." -- even if it is slightly awkward -- better awkward than confused.

That said, I've been making my current heroine somewhat inarticulate and clumsy with words. Hopefully in the internals the reader gets what she wants to say, even if she expresses herself badly. But it's my job that the reader understands what is going on.

May you be clear today.


Blogger moonhart said...

It can be a thin line though, Robin. You don't want to sound like a data dump or underestimate the intelligence of your reader.

I know that I purposely have "not" said certain things in my WIP so that readers can fill in the blanks.

Of course, my first reader also came back to me with a list of things that require more/better explanations for clarity. Especially when you are worldbuilding since the regular rules may not apply.

I guess the best advice is to get thyself a reader.



5:49 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Yes, readers are important. I've heard it that things should be said three times, and I've heard readers complain that there's too much repetition.

It's also a case of the intelligence and flexibility of your readers -- do you repeat once for those who get it or not?

I was the reader, and it was breakfast and I was foggy. I didn't pick up on the names which were really the only indication of the relationship between three characters. Having the first character say "I failed my brother," just once would have left no doubt in my mind.

And, you especially have to intrique but be clear in the first part of a book. Intrique to keep the reader's interest, be clear so they don't get confused they'd put the book down, or have to work hard at it before breakfast or after a long day's work.

So it is that thin line.

7:08 AM  

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