Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Aspect

One of the main themes in The Way of The Kresh is how the Kresh species is forced to adapt its common response toward Kresh that are maimed or disabled. Whereas before these 'imperfect' Kresh would be euthenased, this isn't really a sensible option after the Hegemony mutilates so many of them. My main protagonist, Jeldon, is - of course - a key figure in changing this, but to show such a change you have to demonstrate it in various ways. It can't be just a one off event where every Kresh turns to the other and says, 'you know, I think we may have been wrong all these years.'
 
That means I have to show Jeldon being challenged and then accepted by his own on several occasions. Which could be boring and repetitive. That's where aspect comes in. While the underlying effect of each scene will be the same (and reinforcing), and may contain some of the same actions e.g. the challenge, the counter and the acceptance, each scene can be made fresh and still - hopefully - exciting by picking out a particular aspect to look at the action differently. So in the latest challenge scene I showed it from the point of view of my secondary human protagonist, Rhys. As he hadn't seen this before, and knows little of Kresh society, he was able to bring something fresh to the events as they unfolded.

That got me thinking about focussing and pulling out aspects in other scenes. There are some scenes that just have to be shown. You may have scene A, the set up, which is going to lead to a really awesome scene C. But to get there and for it to make sense to the reader, you really have to show them scene B, which is actually quite static and boring but necessary. But scene B can be brought to life if you choose to tweak or magnify a particular aspect. One obvious way is to set scene B in some setting that is jawdroppingly awesome, so even if the action is pedestrian the reader can look at the pretty pictures. That's okay but gets a bit wearing if repeated again and again. The poor reader gets 'shiny bauble' fatigue. But there's other ways to polish, e.g. by showing the scene through a character that may have some emotional baggage attached to events or setting or the other characters involved. That's a good one because you're also deepening reader understanding for your character and making them richer and more real. It's always good if a scene can be doing at least two things for the reader, like progressing the plot and explaining a character's motivations.

It may take a little more thought and maybe even some back tracking and rewriting, but if you can freshen the repetitive or the mundane in your writing, it's certainly worth it.
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