How Do You Know What’s Good?

This is a comment I left in response to a daily post question from December 1.

When I write a blog post I sometimes take death defying leaps of logic.  I start on one topic and wind up someplace entirely different.  The transition makes perfect sense in my head but when I review my work I realize it would not be clear to others.  That’s a blog.  Dashed off.  Spontaneous.  The reader may have to risk whiplash reading my posts.
Stories are different.  What’s clear in my head must be clear to the reader.  This is terrifying because what is perfectly clear to me may not be so clear to the reader and because it’s clear in my head I won’t even realize it.  I think it’s important to get some distance from the writing process to get a little perspective.  You have to see it new, without ownership.
The goal is for the reader to feel like he’s watching instead of reading.  The reader doesn’t have to see it the way I see it but he or she does have to see it.  You don’t have to describe every character in detail.  Just provide some detail that makes him more than a faceless mannequin.

You don’t have to describe every scene in detail either.  Everybody knows what a conference room looks like.  But again some little detail helps to make the scene come alive.  A flower arraignment or a picture on the wall.  It’s a plus if the detail says something about the story.

Of course there are details that can be vital to the plot.  ‘George knew there was something wrong as soon as the stepped into the conference room.  There it was.  The door in the back wall was on the left instead of the right.  That’s when he knew he had passed through the looking glass.’


About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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