Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Information & Flow: Finding a Balance

In my last blog post, I spoke on how, as writers, part of our job is to tell a story in a captivating way, and I stand by that.  A good story is nothing without the right use of words.

But what a lot of people don't realize is that it can sometimes be hard to find the right balance between a good use of words and putting enough information into your story.

Recently, I've uncovered some of my old stories, and I assumed what all writers assume: that, when I read over my old work, I would find it horrible.  There was no possible way that my writing from three or four years ago was going to be on the same level as my recent work!  In some ways, I was right.  In others, I was not...

What I found, essentially, was a change in my writing style.  A few years ago, I was a flow writer: I thought over everything that I was writing and made sure I was writing them out in the very best way possible to try and get the best sound out of, so that, when people read it, they would be fascinated.  Now, I write to inform, making sure that all of the little nuances of the story are known so that the reader understand what I'm trying to tell them.  There's nothing wrong with either of these methods, but ideally, you should find a balance between them.

For each writer, this balance is going to be different, and can vary from piece-to-piece and even throughout various parts of a particular story.  When writing out an introduction, dream or love scene, it's not uncommon to fall into a more romanticized style of writing, because it reflects the mood of the scene.  When two characters are locked in a passionate embrace, a writer tends to write with more synonyms and metaphors and use less factual words.  The scene is heavily emotional, so so is the writing.  Suspenseful scenes also take on a similar quality, though in a more atmospheric sense, rather than personal.  

To the contrary, other areas that are much more based on the physical qualities of the scene and less on the emotionally will be based more on statements (though they should continue to be descriptive statements).  A heated conversation will rely more on the dialogue and describing the physical reactions of the characters rather than on using words to portray emotion.  

But all those other scenes require a balance.  A good mix between telling the reader what's going on and relaying an emotion and captivating them with your word choice.  Finding that balance is the tricky part.  When you're trying to get yourself through a story, it's easy to state, state, state.  The writing becomes bland; there's little captivation.  No suspense.  No emotion.  Your intense love scene became a simple kiss that lasted a strangely long amount of time.  When you over-think things, the words go into overdrive and you end up with a rather ridiculous-sounding piece.  Readers will wonder why you would use a word like "perplexing" when referring to an inconsequential trip to the bathroom.  

Information and flow are both crucial parts to story-telling; they're both needed to make a truly wonderful adventure for your reader.  The balance between that two is huge, as well as knowing when to give a little more or a little less of either.

How do you handle your flow balance?  Do you prefer to use a lot of sophisticated, fancy-sounding words, or do you prefer to just tell the reader what happens?  Is this the way you think works best?  Are you working to find your balance?  Let me know in the comments!


1 comment:

  1. How fascinating to look over your work from a few years ago. I always love to do that. Sometimes my writing surprises me. I try to find a balance in my writing. I write and rewrite hoping to make everything flow.