|Regarding the 'Women in Refrigerators' trope. The setting of my world is quite violent, and a number of lesser characters, both male and female, are killed not long after their introductions. Their deaths are used for both world-building and to advance plot, and not necessarily motivations for other characters, but is this still putting them in the fridge?|
Nope. Sometimes people die because death is around us. If you’re writing a war story, people are going to die because it’s war. Setting determines how prevalent death is. Minor characters will die. Major characters will die. Everyone is at risk for death and sometimes these deaths can be used as motivation or to advance the plot. That’s okay.
What is a problem is when you:
- Introduce a female character
- For the purpose of killing her off
- So that you can use this death to motivate a male character (usually a boyfriend, but also a husband, father, son, brother, or friend)
This is what stuffing a woman in the fridge is. Writers create a female character for the sole purpose of killing her off early on (most often, these women are murdered by the antagonist to the male protagonist) to serve as a motive for a male character. This happens way too often to let it go unnoticed.
Death can still be a motive for characters though. If a character dies, other characters might continue on in honor of that character or they might be motivated to avenge this character (see Harry in The Prisoner of Azkaban).
The problem with the term ‘writing fat’ is that it’s not very specific and hard to pin down. Some articles define it as unspecific words, or lengthy descriptions, but I think it can be summed up as more than that. I’d define fat in writing as a few different things:
Filler scenes. Are you writing scenes just to reach a word count? Do they have no impact on the plot or characters? Chances are you’re going to have to cut them out later. ‘Filler’ is used in TV and movies to provide a much needed tension break from the action or info-laden scenes (think of long shots of driving, making coffee, or the character just walking), or in the worst of cases, to meet some episode requirement (ALTA made fun of having done this quite well in one episode).
In a visual medium, the mind needs those moments to process the previous action or scene. In a written medium, it’s unnecessary, and these scenes tend to be a waste of your investment and the reader’s time.
Description that doesn’t tell us anything. It doesn’t matter how beautifully written it is, if the reader learns nothing from your description, they will start to skim. This is not easy to the hang of at first, but here are some things you should look for:
- Description that sets the stage. When well done, description that establishes the setting of each scene will hook your reader in. If you’re description a place for a reason, it’s okay. If you’re description something because you don’t know what else to write and you’re trying to fill up space, chances are you need to cut it down.
- Description that shows us something about the character. Body language and behavior are important, but you can also use description to frame a character’s mood and viewpoint. How the character views the weather or chooses to describe another person tells us a great deal about how they feel and what kind of person they are.
Pointless dialogue. In real life, a lot of what people say doesn’t have any particular meaning. They’re certainly not trying to move a plot along. In a story, what is said and how it is said is just as essential as anything else. Dialogue should convey information, whether the characters are aware that it is or not. A stilted conversation over coffee can indicate awkwardness and discomfort among two people, and what’s not said is just as important as what is. Your dialogue should be as pointed as your description!
Filler is fine for NaNoWriMo, but when it comes to editing, you need to be sure everything in your story has a purpose. Good luck!
Zac Posen 2014 Resort Collection
Since eyes are the primary sensory organ for light, it is no surprise that eyes have been called the windows of the soul. Our eyes reflect our outlook, our attitudes, and our openness. Conversely, they tell when we filter or screen out information. …
1. You will inevitably realize how horrible 80% of human are, which will crush your ignorant innocence and optimism. But in the same breath, you will realize how great those remaining 20% are!
2. It will make you stronger and stand taller.
3. You will meet someone that in some way helps…
All my problems begin, and end with frappuccino roast.