Few writers pay much attention to character placement, but this is something of paramount concern to filmmakers, and a subject I cover in depth in Shoot Your Novel. A director has to lay out his camera shots, deciding when a close-up shot would be more effective than a long shot, for example. He may want the camera positioned far away from the action, to make details unclear and evoke curiosity or misinterpretation. Or he may have an extreme close-up to ensure viewers don’t miss a tiny detail that is crucial to the plot.
Does your writing sometimes feel dead? Perhaps your words stare vacantly back at you like lumps on the page? Or do you feel like a lump as you write? How can you inject passion and danger back into your writing?
When you try really, really hard to be funny, it inevitably won’t work. Like when my mother tells a joke. She always forgets some critical piece in the set up that, if forgotten, renders the punch line unintelligible. Which, as she backtracks and says, Oh, I forgot to tell you about the bath tub, is funny, but not the way she intended.
A student came into the Writing Center where I tutor the other day with a complaint about his instructor (big surprise!). The student had been using his thesaurus to come up with another word for ‘people’ to go with ‘the Chinese’ and ended up with ‘civilians.’
Good writing is always honest, whether it’s telling the truth about life, about the world, or about deeply held personal emotions.
In fiction, inanimate objects are seldom truly inanimate.
Clothes can give your reader an important first impression of your character.