Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Narrative Summery. Friend of Foe?

It would be impossible to tell a story entirely in real time. My current manuscript is well over 120,000 words as it is. If I wrote out everything scene by scene I would never have time to finish it and I don't think anyone would want to read a book that long anyways. Most books have portions of narrative summery that only last a page or two but convey the events of weeks or even months to link important scenes without loosing stride in the prose. For some reason I am unable to do this. My narrative summery always goes too fast when I read it back. That inner voice that had been instilled in me since who-knows-when starts screaming "Don't tell your reader that the next few days passed slowly. Show it." and though my conscious mind realizes that that would be a bit extreme --I mean honestly, who wants to read days passing slowly in real time? --I can't seem to shake the niggling. I always want to add a few more details. And then a just a few more. And then --well it might as well be a scene now anyways right? The manuscript grows thicker. The plot starts to get off track. I find myself explaining rules to a card game that was supposed to be there only so my characters had something to do with their hands while they talked . . .

The closest I have been able to come up with as a solution has been to cut straight to where the action starts to pick up again and stop for a paragraph or two after I've set the scene to fill the reader in on what's been going on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It may just be that my writing style does not pair well with narrative summery. Or that I have not yet accumulated the skills.


  1. It's a toughie, I completely agree. I always have trouble with it when I'm writing scenes I don't really want to write. I tend to rush them, because I'm worried about making them sound natural. So they don't. But-- getting critique from others is a great way to find and exterminate those places where you CAN summarize and just don't see it, or had a hard time doing it. Good betas are worth their weight in gold. And you know I'm more than happy to read anything you want to send over by email, since getting a group together seems like pulling teeth.

    Speaking of, Whitney did write and say it might be possible for her, too, but so far she's the only one. I'll send another email tomorrow or Friday asking for a final count.

  2. Thank you. When I feel like I've worked out all the problems I can on my own you will definitely be on my beta list. :)