Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Craft Question

Learning your craft is the most important part of writing, as well as actually getting the words on the page, of course.  Part of that learning comes from reading other writers and this morning I got smacked right in the face with a great lesson in what not to do.

I started reading a Western Mystery, I was two pages into the set-up for a fight that's about to break out during a poker game when suddenly instead of a fight scene, I'm thrust into a two page history lesson about Kansas and the Civil War.  What the?!?  Then just as suddenly I'm back into the poker game and a rundown of the players, and still no fight.  Now why would you break away from a perfectly good fight setup to give the reader a history lesson? 

Now I love history but that certainly wasn't the spot for it.  Shouldn't the history lessons evolve naturally through the characters and/or the setting?  And how does a writer best avoid this type of information dump when writing Historicals?  Can we depend on the reader to know enough about the time period that we don't have to give an in depth description of the gun a character is using, along with the grain and caliber of the bullet (yep, he did that, too!).  

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