November 02, 2012

Write Full Days

Each morning we wake up, we go through our daily lives, and each night we go to sleep to start the cycle all over again for 365 days a year, and every year after that.

When you’re writing, don’t just jump from event to event. Your detailed plan may be compiled of events that make up the beginning, middle, and end of your book, but merely writing those events is not a story. You need to have moments in-between those events to give your readers time to breathe and think. There needs to be dialogue and character building.

Just as we live day-to-day, have your main character live day-to-day, too. You don’t necessarily have to begin each chapter with the protagonist getting out of bed and end each chapter with them jumping back into it. After all, several chapters can be for a single day. However, you’ll want to follow your character’s life to make the story real, to give it substance, and to also avoid confusion over the timeline.

Whatever you do, don’t write hour to hour. A reader doesn’t have to know everything about your protagonists’ morning routine or each meal they eat, unless it is essential to the story. You can still give the illusion of a full day by using phrases like “In the morning” or “At dinnertime.” A simple way to show this is by starting a new chapter with a transitional phrase and then continuing the story.

Another trick is to cleverly hint at the time of day in your writing. Is the sun rising or setting? Is the sky ebony? Are morning birds chirping? Is it time for your protagonist’s two o’clock cup of coffee or chocolate hit? Use these things create a timeline.

As you write through your character’s days and the events in your outline, you’ll start to see a story taking place. That’s the goal.

QUESTION: What literary character’s life do you enjoy following the most?

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