More Reflections on Feedback

Receiving feedback in the tutorial in short, intense burst means that some comments have only just resurfaced in my mind. One really positive one was that someone said I’d taken a number of characters in a situation and made them really realistic and distinctive — they all came over differently from each other and were like real people — albeit unlikeable ones. This is one of the main challenges of any fiction so it was great to think that someone thought I’d succeeded.

I’m just preparing my next reading and working in a fairly similar way — mainly putting dialogue down at first. This isn’t even in any particular order — just conversations the characters might have with each other. I’ll then go back and write the description around the dialogue. One important piece of feedback that has come through consistently is that I both under and over use exposition. I’ll under use it when I set up a scene, maybe after a change of point of view or temporal change. I won’t always give the reader enough information to flag who, where and when. As a novel develops perhaps this is needed less but I can’t expect the reader to be too intuitive when I’ve made a change as an author. On the other hand, I overuse exposition within scenes and about characters. So a reader can work out that when Frances notices a white band on Gordon’s left ring finger then that’s where a wedding ring used to be — I don’t need to say it myself. Nor do I need to explain why Frances put foundation on her finger – an action that I was told was a first for any woman of the class’s acquaintance. So the message is trust the reader to  ascribe motivation to the character’s actions but give the reader some help in circumstances where it’s me, as the writer, who might be the source of confusion.