So…while I’m planning for my NaNo novel, I’ve been writing some short stories. Well, only two so far. One I posted here, in my last post, and the other one actually turned out a little bit too long to really be considered a short story. However, in that novelette, or whatever you want to call it, I learned a lot.
First and foremost, how your writing style can affect the feel of the story. This should make sense. The way you word things, the words you use, all of that, really affects everything.
For example, it’s. Really. Annoying. To. Read. Things. Like. This. Right? It’s stunted and you pause automatically, even if you know you don’t have to, and it gets almost hard to read that. Can you imagine reading an entire scene like that? I think it’d give me nightmares. Or at least a headache. On the same hand, if your sentences are more like this: This is a short sentence. And so is this one. Each has only five words. Doesn’t this sound really boring? They’re actual sentences, unlike the way I begun this paragraph, but it’s pretty equally annoying and monotonous, isn’t it?
That’s why you want to vary the lengths of your sentences, and even vary the way you word it. And, of course, you generally want to word things in the active voice, rather than the passive voice. (And if you don’t know what that means, “She sat in the chair” is active, while, “she was sitting in the chair” is passive. At least, as far as I understand it.)
In writing this short story/novelette, I discovered two things. Both of them, I technically knew already, but never really did anything with them. The first was that my writing style never sounded right. I could never pinpoint the problem, until someone told me I was using the passive voice too often (and, indeed, I use the word “was” way more often than I should). There are a few other things in my writing style that need tweaking, as well, I know, but that was probably the biggest issue.
The second thing was that I never describe things enough. Not just what something looks like, but what everyone is doing. I’d use as few words as possible to say something, and while that can sometimes be a good thing, it wasn’t in this case. While rereading some of my older work, I’ve realized that everything seems to happen in a white room, with nothing. And worse, when people are talking, they never do anything except maybe change their expression. It was like a bad movie with really, really horrible acting, where they just stand around doing nothing when their mouths are open.
So. I haven’t fixed it perfectly in this story. I’m still missing a lot of description, and I wasn’t very actively trying to avoid writing in the passive voice, but I kept both in mind, and I think I did a lot better. I feel that this story is one of my best pieces of writing, and it was a lot of fun to write. Plus, besides all of this, it helped me get the voice for two of my characters that will be in my upcoming novel.
Now I just have to figure out how to edit this thing…