Adding Depth to your Writing

img_0082There’s a great article by Michael Kurland in the April issue of THE WRITER magazine.  It’s titled “Marley was dead: to begin with.” Mr. Kurland talks about breathing life into your character while adding depth to her surrounding.  Often, new writers tend to use too many unnecessary and uninformative words.

For example, you don’t need to tell us your character “walked across the kitchen, pulled out the chair, sat down, and ate her dinner.”  If you simply say, “she dined at the kitchen table,” we’ll assume the rest.  On the flip side, don’t miss an opportunity to enrich the scene with something unique about your character and/or the setting.  For example, saying something to the effect of, “paling at the mere thought of food, Kayla trudged across the roach-infested floor and slumped into the chair as ordered,” certainly presents a different picture and allows the reader some insight into your character’s mood, environment, and situation.

Another point Mr. Kurland makes concerns minor characters and using them to eliminate the “as you well know” dialogue.  This is a technique writers sometimes resort to in order to relay information to the reader which the character to whom the statement is directed does “well know.”  In other words, if that character already knows it, why tell him again.  But a minor character might enter the scene who would have no reason to know this, and you can find a reason for your MC to tell this character, informing your reader at the same time.  So make use of your taxi drivers, waitresses, etc.  I would like to add that even minor characters have distinct personalities, so don’t leave them faceless.  A few descriptors, (e,g, appearances, mannerisms, quirks) can make them real people, and real people make your story come alive.

Bottom line – don’t miss opportunities to add depth to your writing.  It may be the difference between a story you once shelved and a story you once published.

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