In my professional life, I have to focus on message and concision and visuals while usually constrained to 30 seconds. Yes, I produce those dreaded commercials:)
However, it does lend resources to my writing life. I’ve learned there is only one best word for each use and it has to be active, visual and interesting. It has to help move my message–my story–forward.
The process takes me back to a high school art class where we were instructed to create art that makes the ordinary interesting and makes the viewer see the content in a new way, guiding their eye to what you want them to notice.
Writing is the same. We want our readers to see what’s special about our characters and care. They don’t want a caricature of the same people they see everyday. They want details and new angles.
When I’m shooting video, I look for unusual ways to frame the shot or change the height from how we would normally see the scene. In my current novel, I have multiple viewpoints looking at the same subject: art theft. Each character is developed not only by their words and actions in their perspective viewpoints, but also by the observations and opinions of other characters.
I like to give my characters limitations either physical or mental which they have to overcome. I love characters who are clever and notice the details in an ordinary scene that gives them the advantage. I love love love characters that surprise me.
Case in point: as I’m re-writing the last chapters of WIRED, my sister, and first beta reader guessed who I planned to kill off. Guess what? Now he lives! hahahaha. Seriously, I’m changing the entire ending to keep the reader guessing until the very last word. The first rule in making the mundane magical is to do the unexpected.