Today, a friend told me that my writing style comes across as subtle and restrained.
Once I stopped laughing, I started thinking about it. I always feel like I’m hitting emotional beats and foreshadowing with a hammer- following advice from- I think- Dave Freer: if you want the reader to really ‘get’ something, you have to mention it three times, in different ways. This makes sense to me, because when I’m really into a story, I sometimes read so fast that I might miss a single moment of subtle foreshadowing. That doesn’t mean it’s easy for me to do it in my own work. Or rather, it feels weird when I reread my own stuff and see the same thing crop up a few times.
But as the author, you know your world better than anyone else. You know what’s in the characters’ heads, and all the background that doesn’t make it onto the page. So mentioning something more than once can feel ridiculous- ‘why don’t the readers already know this? I know it; I’ve known it for ever; why don’t they?’
Take pity on your poor readers. It’s their first introduction to the world you’ve explored for weeks or months or years of writing. And they can’t see inside your head. You have to show and tell them what’s going on.
This is advice I follow only with difficulty. As my DH will tell you, getting thoughts out of my head and into a form that other people can understand is not my strong point. Growing up, I was immersed in a culture that values emotional restraint and understatement. Hitting people over the head with a hammer- no matter how metaphorical- feels weird to me.
I’m working on it. My latest project is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever written- time travel romance- so I want to get the ‘craft’ bits correct- things like continuity and putting in emotional beats. That way, I have more attention left over for the actual story. We’ll see. I’m going to see if I can make some progress on it today, so I’ll leave you alone for now. Ta for now!