My friend Nicola has a great post today on narrative grammar at her editing site. As I write my NaNoWriMo novel I struggle with this every single paragraph. I’m not an experienced fiction writer so I’m feeling my way through. I have been doing my best to follow some of these advice before reading it. I do pay attention to where my characters are in the space they occupy, and try to make sure that the order of actions makes sense for their viewpoint. I don’t randomly add details, I try to bring them into the flow as a person in that location would notice them, largest and most salient and attention getting things first and then honing in later.
Nicola throws out a challenge to rewrite a paragraph first given to her by Samuel R. Delany. Here is my stab at it:
Harris grabbed the intricate metal handles and pushed open the heavy boardroom door. As he walked in, the sensor circuit transpared the great panes of a huge picture window. He could see the great and silver buildings of the city through it. In the center of the room chairs were set haphazardly around a board table, framed by a gold rug.
For those people doing the NaNoWriMo challenge, I recommend subscribing to the Sterling Editing blog. You’ll learn lessons you need. And don’t forget their second draft special. I’ll be taking that one up myself.