Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Intimate Storytelling - Part II Character’s Feelings

Part I on Intimate Storytelling covered some of the elements of staying in a POV character’s viewpoint, but intimate storytelling needs more than a character’s viewpoint. The reader needs to feel the story through the character’s impressions and experience. This is done by bringing the senses to life.

The familiar “showing not telling” comes into play here. Let’s say a scene opens on a hot day. The POV character could say or think he was hot, or he could compare it mentally to the blast of the smelting ovens in the factory where he works. That ties the character to his employment which helps the reader know a little more about him.

But better yet, help the reader feel the heat through his perspective and experience. His palms slipped against his leather car seat leaving a moist imprint. He touched the steering wheel and drew back his hand. “?**#&8!” (You include the expletives that fit his personality.) In these two sentences readers don’t have to be told about the heat, they can experience it through the character’s senses—sight, sound and touch—because they have experienced the same thing in their lives.

Use on the impressions and senses that impact your story. You might show the heat of a day for the reader’s sense of place, but don’t over do it. You could use the first sentence in the example above alone and you would make your point. Keep descriptions concise when you are using them only to help the reader envision where they are. If you are going to use the setting to enhance the mood or define the character, then the description can be expanded. More about that later.

Too many senses used in one spot can also kill their effect. Chose which sense element is most dramatic or dynamic to your purpose. The overuse of senses can bring the story to a halt rather than add to its quality. If you read your work aloud, or use a text to voice program, many of these problems will jump out at you, and you can correct them. It’s always wise to hear as well as read your drafts. This is using your senses.


Alice said...

I kind of lurk here at your blog reading. Thought I'd post though and let you know I appreciate your take on character. The how to and what not to do. Will look forward to the next post. Just wanted to say thanks.

Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Alice - Thank you so much. I'm glad the articles provide fodder for your writing. I wish I'd had a place like this when I was first learning to write. Characterization is so important to make a believeable story since the goals, motivation and conflict are all delivered through character.

Wishing you great writing.

Janet Kerr said...

I have been reading all of your posts for years now Gail and keep many as a hard copy. I find your information the best on the net!
Characterization is so complex.

Thank you for all the information that I use for my writing (crime thrillers)


Gail Gaymer Martin said...

Janet - Thank you for the lovely compliment. You made my day and all the work on this blog seem worthwhile.

Thanks so much. Spread the word. It's nice to see so many coming to take a look.