In a single day, we gain information from a huge number of places. In the morning, most of us may put the radio on and listen to the news and then reach for our smartphones to catch up on emails and texts or social media. We get up and stroll downstairs for breakfast, noticing the morning post has just dropped through the door. And once outside the house there are posters, maybe station announcements, newspaper headlines, as you pass a shop and even road signs noting diversions or adverse weather conditions.
It’s easy to overlook all these sources of information, when writing a story. Instead, we rely on dialogue and the internal thoughts of our characters, but this can begin to feel flat. What would Victorian novels have done without the arrival of an unexpected letter to move the narrative along? It may seem like a lazy option, but it doesn’t have to be. Using something like a newspaper article, a journal or email can add texture and verisimilitude to your fiction. It can convey a lot of information quickly and effectively, give your protagonist a new insight, as well as offering your reader a bit of variety.
Your writing prompt: Write a scene where your character(s) receive some information through a medium other than dialogue. Whether it’s an email or social media or a TV report, think about the language used. Emails will be short and may include emoticons, social media will be shorter still and TV will use a formal journalistic style.