CG Blake is a writer with thirty years of writing and editing experience. He published his first novel, Small Change, in 2012, and his second novel, A Prayer for Maura, is due out in January of 2016. His interest in family dynamics has led CG to choose family sagas as his main genre. Among his favorite authors are Anne Tyler, Alice McDermott, Alice Munro, Michael Chabon, and Richard Ford. CG lives outside of Hartford, Connecticut. A former newspaper reporter, he is employed as an association management executive in the higher education sector.
As a writer, I’ve noted the similarities between fiction writing and the performing arts. I remember my Speech & Drama teacher in high school taught us how to block scenes on the stage and the physical placement of actors during a scene. These lessons apply to how we set up scenes in a novel.
Stage Directions in Fiction: Where is the MC?
You’re reading a novel and a character appears out of nowhere and joins a conversation. Or, a character sitting in the living room in the scene is suddenly standing by the door. Have you ever felt disoriented by characters who jump on or off the page with no reference to how they got there? Has a beta reader or an editor ever flagged you on the mysterious movements of characters in your scenes?
[pullquote]A member of my writer’s group submitted a piece in which the point-of-view character looked over the shoulder of his wife, who was seated in the corner of a room with a wall behind her. He was looking at something, but the only thing behind his wife was the wall. What was he looking at? I was confused. [/pullquote]
A member of my writer’s group submitted a piece in which the point-of-view character looked over the shoulder of his wife, who was seated in the corner of a room with a wall behind her. He was looking at something, but the only thing behind his wife was the wall. What was he looking at? I was confused. The reference to the character looking over his wife’s shoulder at a wall took me right out of the story.
In my own work-in-progress, I must have read the opening scene a dozen times before I discovered the main character at one point was standing in the kitchen of her family home, putting an English muffin in the toaster. Seconds later, she was seated at the kitchen table, and I had not described how she had gotten there.
What we’re talking about here is an often overlooked aspect of fiction writing—stage direction. [Read more…]