Write Medium

Hi gang, Craig here again. My last post was called Writing Small, which prompted me to ask myself what writing medium should look like. You can go back and see Write Small by clicking on the words. You can also jump ahead to Write Large.

This was the post where we discussed small personal issues to help readers relate to our characters. Doesn’t really matter if we’re supposed to love them or hate them, a connection of some kind ought to be included.

So what does writing medium look like? Heck if I know, I’m making this up as I type. However, I think it ought to remain personal to the character.

Your main character has to want something as the driving force behind his or her actions. Note: they can also not-want something to fulfill this part. One example might be the blissful newlywed who finds a draft notice upon return from work. (Not what the character wanted.)

In my mind, this medium stuff should be about efforts to either acquire what the character wants, or avoid what they don’t want.

Now this particular desire is usually the wrong thing in fiction. There is usually a bigger picture that will change the character’s mind at some point, but that is a topic for another day.

Medium level gyrations might be approaching a senator to see if military service can be avoided. Perhaps a different character would pay detailed attention in military training so as to increase his/her odds of coming home alive.

Medium level things might be watching for a letter from a spouse at the end of each day. Writing small can, and probably should still happen. That letter might have a scent of her favorite perfume. In a science fiction world, the email might include a naughty attachment.

The medium focus might be on the mission in front of the character’s face. He/she is going to get thrust into something, and that should be the part readers get next. The fact that seven different fleets are massing across four different star systems is irrelevant right now. Right now, bringing that star-fighter back to the mothership is all that matters.

Since this is all personal stuff, a few appropriate deaths might be useful in the space-opera. It makes it all real and specific to your character. Perhaps the horror of it all sparks interest in the bigger picture, so as to end the war faster.

Perhaps the star-fighter performs well, and everything is looking great. Then the mothership explodes and there is no place to return too. That might spark the character into an interest in the bigger picture. Maybe those appropriate deaths were friends in mission control or something.

Like I said, I’m making this up as I go, but I think it’s a worthy topic. Writing medium is a transition. We move from what the character wants, into realization that what they really want is something else. Sure, the main character wants to return to the spouse, but if the war isn’t decisively won, there may not be a spouse to return home to.

This realization might include some specific skills that could help win the war. They might even lead to a re-enlistment… because of the risk to the spouse character. The offer to re-up came with a promotion, and that promotion is your stepping stone to the bigger picture.

My goofy examples were a space opera, but this works everywhere. One guy is handsome and rich, but the auto mechanic makes her laugh. One life includes luxury and leisure, but her value is limited to arm-candy at political rallies. The other life involves working and struggling to make ends meet, but equal value in the relationship and a few laughs along the way. She wants something, and the medium writing helps expose truths that lead to her big decision.

I hope this has value for all of you. It helped me to write about it. Weigh in here, what would writing medium look like to you?

All posts deserve a graphic, and I don’t always include one. I want to be true to my Story Empire compatriots, so I’ll include one here. Write Small included a closeup picture of a lava flow at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters is interesting on a medium level too, so here’s another picture I took that stepped back a ways.

38 thoughts on “Write Medium

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  5. You always do well with the “thinking-as-you-go-type” posts. I never really thought bout writing small or medium until you broached the subject, but I do see small as the minute details that flesh out a character or scene. I believe medium would expand the focus and act as a springboard to a larger issue and/or conclusion.

    Space operas are always good examples 😉

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  6. You bring out a lot of great points in this post, Craig. When I first saw the title, “Writing Medium,” I thought it might include a visit to a psychic. 🙂 I think as you pointed out above, a story would be a combination of all three – small, medium and large. Medium would be the dimension that would layer the story with more depth and give a closer look into the character. Well-done, to be “making it up as you go!”

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  7. Pingback: Write Small | Story Empire

  8. What an interesting take on the subject, Craig. It really crystallized when I saw the photo. For writing small, the focus brought such minute and important details into focus, but we couldn’t see the big picture. I’d assume that by writing large, we get the big picture but miss all the interesting characteristics of an up-close look. But writing medium is the perfect way to give one precise and discrete look at something without being bogged down with detail or lost in the bigger, over-arching message. Nicely done.

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  9. Great ‘thinking-as-you-go’ post, Craig. What you say reminds me how closely fiction mirrors real life. We all live within a bigger picture, just that some of us are aware of it and some oblivious … all grist for the mill. One approach I use is to bring in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: when we’re scrabbling around at the very bottom of that triangle, desperate for food, water, warmth, shelter, and safety, then politics and higher aspirations don’t figure at all. And even that person at the very bottom is affected by the folks at the top. Using this approach helps me to slide between the small, the medium, and the big, as I need to. I love your examples, which I can always relate well to. Thanks, Craig 🙂

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