A few weeks ago I started this draft, and today more than ever I see that sometimes it is so hard for things to make sense. We have been hearing so much, sometimes contradictory advice and news, and we need for things to be understandable. While we can’t control the outside world, which is vast and diverse, we can have some control over what we do, and this is where writing comes in.
Writing often helps me make sense of situations – sometimes I am puzzled by something that is happening, and while I write, a little door opens up and I understand my feelings better, and I understand other people better too.
Making sense and finding meaning are part of the human experience, we want the pieces of our puzzle to fit in somehow. This doesn’t mean we are all the same – each of us is making a different puzzle, but we are all looking to find the pieces that fit together to make our experience one that makes sense.
To find out if your story makes sense, you have to decide what kind of story you’re writing
For those of you who grew up like me in the eighties (or before), this picture may bother you a little – or maybe it's just me.
This person looks like she is about to type something with her left hand, but her right hand is adjusting the paper. I’m not really sure why she’s trying to do both, but something about this picture doesn’t look right. Does that ever happen to you when you read a story?
Today we are going to talk about making sense in writing. Making sense doesn’t mean that the characters only do logical things – we all know people who surprise us all the time, and we don’t want to create cardboard-like predictable characters. So what does a story need to make sense?
When you have written your story, you know your work is halfway done. Now you need to go back to it. It’s important to sit down with your child and read their story with them, and see if there are things in the story that don’t add up. Is the main character a child, but halfway through the story it’s a banker? Unless this is a sci-fi story, maybe something got lost along the way.
Do you ever watch a movie or a TV show where the character leaves the kitchen and when she is in the living room suddenly her hair is up, or her necklace is missing? This is because something went wrong with the continuity between one scene and the other. And this can happen in our writing too, especially if our story is long.
Making sense in a story has to do with choices. If you choose for your character to change from schoolchild to banker, you have to choose a world where those things are possible. It’s about sticking to your choices so that the reader stays with you and is able to follow your story.
For this week’s exercise, I want you to think of one thing that would make our world different. For example, there are no dogs, the letter x no longer exists (or eists), we are only allowed to eat vegetables, it’s hot every day of the year… the possibilities are endless!
Try to write a new story with one change in mind and make sure your story makes sense, then see if someone reading your story can guess what that change is. You can also take a story you have already written and change something about it.
If you need to, go back to my post on parts of a story.
I hope you can all keep reading and writing while you spend time at home. I’d love to read your stories!