Writers Tricks of the Trade ISSUE 3, VOLUME 7 - Page 32

W HAT A RE THE C ONTOURS OF Y OUR S TORY ? R OBERT W. W ALKER There are steps a young writer can take to improve the contours of a story overnight. There are skills that can be taught and understood in teachable moments about writing. There are plugs in the wall that all authors, whether selling or starting out, can plug into. R OBERT W. W ALKER A UTHOR R OBERT W. W ALKER IS A VERY PROLIFIC WRITER WHO HAS CREATED MULTIPLE SERIES AS WELL AS STAN - ALONE BOOKS . T HE SERIES INCLUDE : T HE I NSTINCT S ERIES T HE E DGE S ERIES T HE B LOODSCREAMS S ERIES T HE D ECOY S ERIES C HICAGO ME S ERIES I NSPECTOR A LISTAIR R ANSOM M YSTERIES AND MORE ... V ISIT R OBERT ’ S W EBSITE FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF HIS OVER 70 BOOKS F ALL 2017 Here are a few contour helpers that count large. Look into any grammar textbook and reintroduce yourself to the element of Active vs. Passive Voice, which style element has a great impact on contours; the use of active verbs provide visuals in the reader’s mind, whereas passive verbs have no visual components. The writer must see clearly that most dramatic writing, sentence by sentence, begins with a clear Noun/Name followed by a clearly Active Verb. For example: His shattered arm dangling, Jack half-threw, half-pushed the gun to Max. Or tossed, or lobbed but NOT ‘was about to or perhaps maybe toss or throw’ it. Helping verbs are a weak substitute to the ACTIVE form of the verb. So revisit the use of Active over Passive verbs and maintain one, consistent verb tense (time) while at it. Secondly, be more conscious of your use or overuse of pronouns and prepositional phrases. Overuse of both lead to total confusion, and SIN #1 in writing is to be unclear. Stephen King says, “If you can’t make that sentence sing, then at least make it clear” while Mark Twain says, “When in doubt, strike it out.” Words like he/she and him/her are useful but an over-reliance on them/pronouns can lead to major confusion as in: “Mary told her mother that she was fat and ugly, and her father told her that he agreed that she was fat and ugly.” There is NO WAY to know if Mary is speaking about herself or her mother in that sentence, and her father’s remarks do not help at all. To set it to dialogue can make it crystal clear. To use names could clarify it as well, nouns over pronouns. Good advice on an SAT test, too. Always take the answer that gets capitalized. Thirdly, do not shy away from story SHAPES and FORMS that have worked since the Heroic narrative older than the Bible, Gilgamesh. Do not decry a SHAPE that works and say you will never use it. In fact, it is like a plug in the wall for all of us dysfunctional people to use. There is no reason to RUN from the fact that every story shape possible has been utilized before you were born, because that is the reality of storytelling today as it was when the first story was put to parchment or carved in stone since the shapes were already defined and outlined. Use them as outlines. P AGE 24 W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE TRADE