Article length: 1300 words (preview 400/wds)
In a recent podcast I was talking about how a writer doesn’t get a chance to explain their work.
When a reader or audience engages with your writing, your work stands or falls on its own legs. Period.
Often, when I give editorial comments to newer writers on why something doesn’t work, they’ll try and defend their writing.
“Well the hero does that in this scene, because this, this and this.”
The minute you have to explain it, you’ve failed. Clear, effective writing requires no explanation.
So even if your argument is valid, you’ve still failed because you did not express your elements effectively enough that they need no explanation.
This concept circles back to one of writing’s most fundamental covenants, something you hear me say all the time;
“At any given moment, you must know the narrative significance of what you’re trying to express. Whether it’s at the act, sequence, scene, page, panel, dialogue bubble level, single line, or even word.”
With this level of constant awareness, you can then keep three considerations in mind at all times;
- Intention to Express. Or simply, Intent.
- Execution of Intention. Or simply, Execution.
- Effectiveness of Execution. Or simply Effectiveness.
Keeping IEE in mind, allows focused writing. There are no complicated tricks here. The hardest part is merely taking the time and effort. Let’s break it down;
As an example, I’m gonna reverse engineer a panel from my new series Peerless.
EXT. SHIP AT SEA – DAY
KIARA leans against the deck railing of a large ship on a choppy sea. She holds a well-worn letter in her hands, a letter she’s read many times and contemplates reading again while she stares off across the water, with a distant, brooding look on her face. Her hair rustles in the sea wind.
CAP 36 hours earlier.
Think you can guess what the intent is?
Well, this one is too tricky for you to guess, you can guess the obvious one, but there are actually 2 equally important narrative expressions in this panel; the second is only understood within the context of an upcoming panel, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Let me explain;