Finding The Write Distance

Finding The Write Distance

It’s no surprise that I love writing fiction. And I know that what I do isn’t perfect, it’s why editing exists because you need to keep remoulding, revising and revitalising your work to get it close to perfect. I’ll always find something wrong with my writing, but I’m a perfectionist, so it’s probably not a good thing to look at me (ha!). Today’s blog is about distance and finding the write distance in both your writing and in your editing.

You’re probably looking at me and going, why the hell have you put the wrong right in title? Well for one, I’m covering two different types of distances. One that is the easiest and involves putting your piece of writing and frankly I love a play on words. Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t chuckle a little. I know you did!

The other type of distance I’m talking about is the kind that you put with your narrator when you’re trying to get your readers to feel something for them. A lot of people tend to just graze over this, they like to take the easy way out and just tell their way around, but you can’t just go on telling everything or your readers will soon get bored and being bored is not a good thing.

Let me go into the first one. I was sitting at the writers’s week on my shift and I felt so compelled (I promise there will be a wrap up post about that soon too), to sit down and listen to a writer. His name is Jerry Pinto and he was an Indian author who seemed to just get it. He wrote his first draft and took six months away to process it and what he found was that he hated majority of his writing. We think, that in the throes of writing, we are writing liquid gold, it flows steadily out of our fingers and onto the page. It’s beautiful, but when we look back we think: what the fuck?

I’ve had this happen to me many times over, I even find now that I’m like: holy crap that’s crap, what was I thinking? But that’s because we’re too hard on ourselves. We have to learn, our first draft, it’s never going to be great, it’s going to always be rough, but in that roughness there is something beautiful. It’s waiting for us to find it.

That’s the easy distance. The hard one is what happens when you start writing and playing with Point of View (POV). There are two different distances to play with here. The first is emotional distance and the other is time distance. They only relate with how the reader can see what is happening.

Emotional distance has three levels.

  • Long Shot: The woman dashed through the busy crowd to get to her bus.
  • Medium Shot: The woman dashed through the crowd, elbowing her way to bus.
  • Close-Up: As the woman elbowed her way through the crowd to her bus, she felt rushed to get away from the people.

With time distance it’s a little different. When we’re reading something we assume that the event happened recently but depending on the urgency and the immediacy of the piece it can seem different. Some writer’s like to specify just how long ago it all happened and it gives readers a sense of nostalgia when reading.

It’s funny just how different the two of these methods are but if you looked at a book, you wouldn’t even bat an eyelash because you trust the writer to give you what you really want without you realising it. Sometimes the differences make it hard to read a book, sometimes now.

So I put this to you. Do you put time between you and your posts or any of of your writing? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to get a conversation with you.

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