Monday, April 23, 2012

Matt de la Peña: Hey, Author Person, Get Out Of My Way

Matt de la Peña followed up his Friday Fiction Intensive, focusing on dialogue, and his Saturday Keynote address with a terrific breakout session on the use of the narrator in fiction--getting out of the way of your characters and clearing the stage for them to do the work.

Matt spoke to the importance of the author being patient, of stepping back in the writing so as not to show off to the reader--allowing the character, setting and action to reveal the story and create more space for the reader to participate in the narrative.

Some nuggets I took away from his session:

  • Start a scene (or the book) as late as possible and end it as early as possible: get in, get your beats and get out
  • The reader wants to be thrust directly into the story; they want to watch and discover. Are you starting your book too soon?
  • The idea of the writer and the reader being in collaboration – stepping back from the work allows for a wider interpretation on the part of the reader, and that’s a good thing.
  • In dialogue, what’s inside the quotation marks is the character. What follows (the tag: she said for example) is the writer. Make that tag, and the author’s presence, as spare as possible.

Notes by Tina Hoggatt

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