Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Content - The Mystery Revealed

Exactly what is content? Well, to start, it is the bulk of the story. Content. This is where you tie it all together: concept, character, climax and conclusion. Seems easy enough, doesn't it?

Well, Content can be broken down into segments - and so we shall do that.


The character. Whoa, you say. We just spent two sessions on character. That is true but now we are looking at more than names, physical descriptions, etc. How about a character's entrance?

The writer should be subtle but thorough in giving a character his or her entrance. Which is better?

The brown dog walked toward the fence, looked in and watched the white dog in the yard.


The light brown shepherd-mixed dog with the plumed tail pranced grandly down the cobblestone street toward the newly painted white picket fence that enclosed the towering two story Victorian house with its circular turrets at the corners. Fozz stuck his long nose through an open area of the fence and watched the attractive American Eskimo dog frolic in the freshly mowed grass and romp between the trellises loaded with blooming pink roses. On the porch Fozz noticed the two humans as they stood beside each other watching the white dog. He spied the fancy purple collar with rhinestones glittering in the sunlight that encircled Tasha's white neck. In fact, he saw the shiny metal tag that hung from her throat on Tasha's collar. She was owned; he was envious.

If you noticed, we used our dogs as described before but a new character was added. Did you recognize that one? This is what I tend to call the 'forgotten character' and is so casually overlooked by novice writers. The scene! The location!

A friend of mine once told me that reading my stories was like watching a rehearsal of a play with the actors strutting across a blank stage. The dialog was great but the background was bland. I tried to say that this allowed the reader to fill in with their imagination. He retorted that even for the imagination to work, there had to be some basics and my descriptions were rudimentary, at best.

By taking the advice of my friend, I was able to add word count to my tale without changing the storyline.

Which now begs us to ask - How much content?

A story's length (content) is decided by the story itself. To condense it too much is to cheat the reader of the glorious details. Yet, to expand it too far is to bloat and fluff the tale, making it a boring read.

You, the author, must decide if what you will create is a short story, a novella, or a full-blown novel. This is where you unfurl the mast rigging and allow the sail(s) to billow out whether it be a small sheet on a raft, a large sail on a yacht or multi-sailed on a ship.

This concludes CONTENT 1 - next time we will continue with CONTENT 2: Dialog and Voice.

Enjoy your writing and tell me how things are going. If you have a specific question, ask and I will attempt to answer.

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