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I’ve been going through the Magical Words archives, making certain I have made a copy of everything before it hits the seven-year disappear mark. And I found it! Vernor’s Law. No, not the one of “If the technological singularity can happen, it will.” but the one useful for writers.
(please note this is paraphrased) At any given time while writing, at least two of the three should be happening in a scene, preferably all three. Otherwise your writing has stalled.
- Develop character
- Advance plot
- Fill in necessary background information.
The most commonly known version of breaking this law is an information dump. On the other hand, the most common weakness of a new writer is the character description which just describes the character like they are in a police lineup.
David B. Coe goes into a series on descriptive passages helping writers to sharpen their descriptive skills so nothing is just an information dump. The series includes the following (with the comments being nearly as useful as the blog postings):
WRITING EXERCISE: After reviewing the above, write 200 words or more description from your present WIP using one of the following prompts: a setting building toward action, a secondary character as described by the main character, an action scene from someone other than your typical POV character limited by that characters experience and language, or a dialogue which is particularly about character building and background information.