by VJ Miller, Sr.
Why Voice before Facts? As I zero in on the final chapters of my next book, Planet of Statues, I stand at 40k words; where it will top out is beyond me right now. Planet of Statues is the second book in the series, Realms Uncharted Presents. I’d planned on a one story per issue format of 18 to 20k words; something easy to read in one sitting. As has happened in the past, one of my stories has taken on a life of its own. One short story, Beware the Pedaler, was planned to be only 8 to 10k but finally topped out at 18k. My novel, Mask of the Crime Czar I expected to be around 60k actually ended up with 85k.
Planet of Statues is the story of the hyper-ship, Searcher and its crew who are on a deep space survey mission to find planets similar to their own home world for either colonization or a source of elements they can exploit. The one caveat; any planet with intelligent life or what may evolve into such life must be avoided.
Their search finds a world of great promise; it is lush, green and devoid of any populace… but is it really? Sonar scans discover that what was thought to be mountainous terrain is actually toppled over buildings covered by deep vegetation. But where are the people who built this infrastructure, why did they abandon it? That’s the mystery, one which could be deemed a murder mystery. And what is the biggest mystery of all that is touched upon in the final analysis?
Show Don’t Tell:
In setting up any plot for a story I continue to remind myself that one of the author’s duties in presenting a story is to Show Don’t Tell. But what does that really mean? I doubt many novice writers know and longtime writers may not fully understand. To show often means to give a full description of where and when a scene takes place as well as the look and demeanor of anyone in the scene. I have read stories that have TMI (too much info) for my reading taste. These descriptions show everything possible as if the writer were setting the panels for an artist to draw in a graphic novel. A portion of the description may be a clue in a mystery but an excess of exposition just bogs down a story, especially if it is of an action adventure genre.
As someone who enjoyed the radio plays before TV I was obligated to use my imagination for most of what was being presented. Today’s readers are a lot smarter and as such I feel I can give them just enough to set the scene and let their own imagination fill in the blanks. Doing so they can immerse themselves in their world and not one they had built for them.
To Tell is just that simple. In doing so you only give one point of view, Yours. As though you were on the outside looking in. Certainly an oversimplification but it tends to lack much emotion.
Voice Before Facts:
My position is to give Voice Before Facts. Planet of Statues is presented through the dialog of the participants in the story. Much of the exposition happens early in describing each player and their attitude, or relating the passage of time where not much is happening. Even that is kept to a minimum.
In letting dialogue drive you story along the pace definitely quickens. Your story or novel, as may be isn’t bogged down by over-description. You can write a 40k word novella that reads as fast as one of only 20k because you are not stumbling over a lot of description. Set the scene and let the reader’s imagination take over.
Point to ponder:
Taped over my monitor are words that I try to live by because it is the major truth in writing:
No matter what you do or what you create there will always be someone who doesn’t like it.
I don’t know where I heard this line but I have added it to the Acknowledgments in the front of the book along with the next line:
To that end I give thanks to those readers who chose to read and decide whether they liked this book… or didn’t.
When the book is finished and ready to be published I will announce it here and on other social media. There will also be a giveaway through the Goodreads website. In addition there will also be a giveaway through this website so you will have to check back here and read how to do it.