October 12, 2013

Linear stories

Dear M,

As new authors, we are very focussed on our story. We miss a lot of things. As a reader we would find many things to criticise, we find ways to improve the story, but with our own, we become a little myopic. We forget to provide a roundedness to the story.

Most often what happens is that our story becomes too linear. (I have spoken about them when we discussed sub-plots). Our eyes are only on the major plot, the main theme. If we could digress a little and add some colour to the landscape, it would reduce the strain on the reader too. It would not appear too... linear.

I have been experimenting with sub-plots. But the drawback is that, we do not know how much is too much or too little. We do not want the reader to go too far into the sub plot and forget what the main focus was on. I have used sub plots to describe my characters. To develop them. I go into the character's life a bit, whatever is relevant, and a little that is not relevant too, and explore around a bit. So that hopefully the reader would get some picture about them. I have also written in one place about the history of a certain place that is the most important backdrop of my story. It is actually part of the main plot, but the history is not essential. It only adds to the reader's knowledge. But how much of it is too much? Will the reader be yawning or skipping those paragraphs? No idea. I am not bored, I am intrigued, but of course I will be!

One of the first feedback most writers (aspiring authors) receive is to "learn the art of short-story writing, before you venture into novels". Very often it is intended as a sarcastic, negative comment but there could be a real reason behind it too. Short stories are pretty much linear narratives, there is no space to wander too much into sub plots and character developments more than necessary. Once we master it, it becomes easier for us to experiment with developing the sidelines. Any kind of experiment that stretches our imagination or enhances our learning is a good thing!


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