Tool Series #2 — Multi-Tool, Part 2

Yesterday I named the four basic writing strategies which make up my Writing Multi-tool functions and which I use constantly while working.  They are:

  1. Description
  2. Dialogue
  3. Narrative
  4. Action

Description and Action, as I said before, each have two sub-functions which I discussed when talking about Description yesterday and will discuss further when we get to Action.  Also, yesterday, I said I would illustrate each of these functions by giving you real examples from my novel, Wanderer Come Home, which I hope will make these strategies more practical and concrete for you.

And I want to mention something else about our so called Writing Multi-tool which is this:  I’m discussing my writing strategies in this blog article but I want you to know you can, and should, adapt this idea to meet your specific needs as a writer.  You may want to add or subtract strategies from my example.  You may want to add, for example, Backstory to your list of strategies.  Or you may want to use different terms that make more sense to you.  For instance, you may want to change Dialogue to Talk or Narrative to Storyteller, so that it is easier, when you think of them, to understand what you mean by the terms you choose.  The important thing is being able to know, as you work, what writing strategy you are using at any given time because there are often good reasons for using one strategy over another to achieve certain story effects.  I’ll try to explain this better.

Again, you may be asking Why is it important that I know what strategy I am using so long as I achieve the result I want?  Well, you certainly don’t have to use this tool to get good results (or you might switch strategies so naturally that you don’t have to think about it at all) but I have found that knowing when and where I use a certain strategy is sort of like being aware of my story’s metadata.  It gives me a better understanding of how my audience might be experiencing the story as it unfolds.  And that allows me to work with more intention and less guesswork.

Perhaps I can illustrate this point with an example.  I have this little rule:  If a passage or scene is something I don’t want to write then probably the audience won’t want to read it, either.  In other words, if I think it’s boring, the audience will think it’s boring too.  So when I come to one those places in the story in which I want to skip writing in detail a scene but I do need to include what happens in that scene for the sake of story flow, I will switch writing strategies and use what I call Action Summary, in which I give a quick summary of events between where the story is presently and where I want the story to jump to.  But before I was aware of this Action Summary strategy, I would agonize over how to write the scene I had no interest in.  What I often did was grit my teeth and write the scene anyway, no matter how painful it was to do so until, finally, I found this strategy for skipping it.

Obviously, I did not finish explaining this very useful tool but there’s always tomorrow.  So again, I will pick up tomorrow where we are and hopefully finish the Writing Multi-tool idea.  In the meantime, have fun writing.