So, today I volunteered to help my family answer phones at the business. Had to meet my dad at the office at 8:30, which meant leaving my house at 7 to bring daughter to her other grandparents, husband to work, and myself to the Poconos for duty.
In the first half hour, I had breakfast.
The next two hours, between the light phone calls, I wrote a strong draft of chapter 14 of my work in progress, Courting Apparitions.
After lunch I tried to progress with Chapter 15, but the ideas aren't fully formed enough, though I did sketch out the key moments of the chapter.
Next, I started to read one of the submissions for our critique group. I found this one difficult. And here comes my reflection for the day.
As a writer and a reader, I ask works to transport me. That requires three things: character, scene, and craft. I cannot rank any of these higher than the others.
CHARACTER: Each recurring character in your story must have a distinct flavor. His speech, his dress, he mannerisms. We should be able to tell this character even if the author only uses a pronoun instead of a name. That's how clear character development should be.
SCENE: As a reader, I need a sense of place. This involves enough background detail so I feel anchored but not so much I can't keep track of where I am and which elements are important. Smells, sights, sensations of light and dark. What other people are doing. And it must have the rich details, the pertinent details, but not the ordinary ones.
If I form a mental picture and you change that picture later by adding details that weren't there earlier that I made up... Well, I'm going to mistrust my other pictures.
CRAFT: Using too many prepositions, giving me sentences that are too bare-boned and don't have enough pace to keep me moving, or maybe using sentences that don't have that pizzazz to my ear... That will lose me. A great way to measure pizzazz is to read the work aloud. Believe me, you'll realize the lagging parts instantly.