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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Fleshing out the Bones

Author Topic: Fleshing out the Bones
Member # 593

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Hello, it's me again with another question...
I have now been critiqued a bit, and I keep getting the same sorts of comments. My readers want/need to know more than what I have provided. I am doing a good job of getting the skeleton of a story but what I think is a complete story leaves my readers with more questions than the satisfaction that comes from reading a good story. How do I work with this problem?

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Member # 650

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Try looking at each charactor separately. Become each one and give him or her a story, a place, become the charactor. Then "Flesh" them out. I had the same problem until I did this.


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Member # 674

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Take a moment, after you've written your "skeleton", to step away.

Then, when you are ready to review your work with a critical eye, try reading it aloud. Sometimes, hearing it back will show you were the holes are.

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Member # 213

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Write down everything that your character would notice, and everything that they think and feel about it, and all the thoughts that are inspired by that as well.

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Member # 132

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Of course, leaving the reader wanting more isn't necessarily a bad thing either. Is some of what they are asking for explained in later chapters or even in the NEXT novel?

One caution, beware of superflous detail, especially if this is short work fiction. You don't need to weigh it down with bags of flesh hanging off your skeleton of a story. Maybe try writing it deliberately with TOO much detail and see if it is easier to shed the pounds than to put them on...

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Member # 750

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i'm not certain if this will be of much help, but i find that fleshing out your characters is a good way to add some meat to the story. before writing, or when i've just written a new character in, i like to think of each one as a person that could walk through my door and start a conversation with me.
i write up a sheet with everything from their hair colour and weight to their religion and personal motivations in the story. i rarely ever use all the information i write down, but it's there for when i need it.
i've found that the more developped the characters are, even if they're only secondary ones, the more life their actions and conversations take on, and the more "complete" the story seems to me.
i'm not sure if i explained that very well, and i have to admit that i don't have much experience as a "serious writer" but the technique helps me a lot.

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Member # 674

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What kind of questions?

Sometimes there are very good questions that may sound like a failure on your part to convey an idea (especially with a critique group), but really aren't.

I get questions like: Why did he do it that way? Where did he come from? What's her reasoning?

And, no. I don't want it spelled out to the readers.

Bear in mind that critiques are supposed to tear things apart, and they sometimes will tear something apart that doesn't need it.

The test is to take it to someone who doesn't know you (like a co-worker). See if they get lost.

In the story I submitted to my Hatrack group, they all had a point of view and shattered the basic concept of my work. However, when I took it to people who would actually buy the work and read it for fun, I received an entirely different critique.

One of the things I do during the re-read is take each paragraph at a time. I make sure the point of view is standard, that I'm not mixing my "ing"s with my "ed"s (a tense situation), and that the information I want to get across is there.

Now, whether the reader picks it up or not isn't my problem. I've created an art that's not designed for everyone. As long as my target audience can follow it... it's all good.

[This message has been edited by Shasta (edited December 14, 2000).]

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Member # 279

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And don't be afraid to go back and add or change. The story itself will tell you things as you go along. You can use the information you pick up this way to go back and flesh things out. You will never satisfy everyone so be sure to satisfy yourself first and foremost.
Posts: 80 | Registered: Oct 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator

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