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The Workshop - Tips, Tricks, and Theory

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Posts

  • Zetetic ElenchZetetic Elench Registered User regular
    edited December 2006
    Oh, and another - something my father once told me was that when you're writing a descriptive paragraph, try and aim for two visual descriptions, one aural, one tactile sensation and one smell.

    Obviously, it's complete bunk, and you should throw it completely out the window and go with your story - but the realisation that absolutely everything I had been writing up to that point was solely visual completely overthrew and changed my writing.

    It's useful to remember just how much more impact a story has when you're describing all the sensations, not just one limited impression.

    Zetetic Elench on
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    KCWise
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited January 2007
    READ.

    Reading is the best step towards becoming a good writer. Remember that you were a reader before you were a writer, and whatever you write, write it knowing that someone will read it in mind.

    That means READ. Read a lot, read more than you write. And really read, like after you finish that book that you love the most, go back to it and make a literary research paper on it, an essay, your own sparknotes whatever.

    Your best teacher will be your favorite book.

    Munacra on
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Here's another one:

    Suspense. Suspense keep the reader turning pages. We all want to be in that state of "what happens next". If you find yourself in a snag, try adding an element that will add suspense.

    Munacra on
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Keep your imagery fresh.

    Imagery does come with an expiration date, and it it loses it's "freshness" it loses its impact.

    "At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bak of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs."

    If that sentence was a woman, I'd [spoiler:086802cea1]fuck it cuz she fine and fresh, just like I like em[/spoiler:086802cea1] :winky:

    Munacra on
  • euoleuol Registered User
    edited January 2007
    I'd say that a big one for me is remembering not to bank my stories on too few ideas. It seems to me that a lot of failed stories come because writers get one good idea and go with that. Such is fine for something 2,000 words longer--but when it comes to novels, I'd say six or eight ideas are a minimum. A couple of good, fresh concepts for each character. A couple of original twists for the plot. A couple of clever setting ideas (particularly if you're writing genre.)

    euol on
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  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Munacra's point about suspense is best addressed with "damn right", but keep in mind that plot twists and tension in general are best applied if the reader can get past it and then think "wow, why didn't I see that coming?" rather than "huh. I didn't see that coming... because what the freaking fuck does the robot lobster have to do with anything?" :lol:

    But seriously, I sometimes see those kind of elements forced into WIPs, clearly because someone's made a good-natured suggestion and the author doesn't realise that randomly inserting something into their fledgling novel isn't always a smart move.

    And euol's right, but if you're not careful with your application of setting/character/plot ideas, you get 169,000 word babble-heaps that don't go anywhere. *cough*

    Edcrab on
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  • Baron DirigibleBaron Dirigible Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    On Openings

    [quote=Joan Didion]What's so hard about the first sentence is that you're stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you've laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.[/quote]

    There's a lot of pressure attached to the first sentence. How much should I say? What should I say? Should I verb in the first sentence, or should I be a gentleman and wait?

    Here's the thing: the first sentence is important. It's going to be the first thing your reader sets eye on, so it bears the full weight of the narrative on its shoulders. On the other hand, that doesn't mean it needs to be the first thing the writer sets to paper.

    The important thing is to start writing. Don't linger on the first sentence -- just get it written and keep moving.

    Afterwards, go back and cut the first few paragraphs, and see how your story begins -- chances are it will be an improvement. In fact, try it now with some of your more unpolished pieces. There's a beauty to beginning in media res (literally "in the middle of"): no clunky exposition, bogged-down description, or an awkward sense of having shown up early to a party. Additionally, it helps draw the reader in by refusing to give them the courtesy of an introduction. Pull them in by the collar, thrust a beer in their hand, shove them into the middle of an argument between two lovers, and then watch.

    Of course, Didion's right: the moment you start writing, you start sacrificing freedom. Therefore, by the time you've written those first two or three disposable paragraphs, your story's lenses are tighter, the view more focused. You've established by then in your own mind what the story is about, and so there's little to no ambiguity, and little danger of a false start.

    Go! Write! And when you've finished your story, start it!

    Baron Dirigible on
    Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • Jon 118Jon 118 Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    One thing I like to do is add little 'hints' to stories that I write; I put in a few completely innocuos(?) peices of information in the first few thousand words of the novel, things that most readers won't pick up on as being significant, then later on in the novel reveal them as being important. This makes it more rewarding to read a second time, and also has the added benefit of making you plan ahead quite a way, since you obviously can't insert this kind of hint without knowing what is going to happen.

    Also, a good idea if you're writing a story with lots of complex things happening or if you are including lots of creatures, gadgets, etc, then it's a good idea to write down (seperately from your story) what exactly they are, and put down a reasonably detailed description of them so you don't end up contradicting yourself. Of course, this doesn't mean you should write down everything, as if you do that you'll end up writing more about the things in the story than the story itself.

    Final point; be flexible, and don't be afraid to remove some part of the story or some plot device you really liked if you think it will make the story flow more. There's a good chance that at least one, and probably more, of your ideas are no good, and just slow and destract from what could otherwise be a very good story. So if you need to completely alter some major part of your story to make it work, then do it. Just be sure you save a copy of it prior to changes, though, as your editing may make it worse (there's no way to know until you're done).

    Jon 118 on
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  • sonicrupturesonicrupture Registered User
    edited January 2007
    good grief, this thread is a GOLD MINE for amatuer writers.

    best advice i can give: everyone is different. therefore, everyone has something different to bring to the table. find out what your strength is, use it, and be sure to start woodshedding out your weaknesses. you might be awesome at creating character dialogue. thats great; a lot of people have problems with that. on the same token, if your not so fantastic on making characters or crafting plot, then you might end up with Jack and Jill having a wonderful conversation, as they go to get water. the talk is great....but everything else is lacking.

    i should probably add that this same advice applies to the characters you create as well. they are, for all intents and purposes, real people (or they should be, to the author. if not, they wont be any more real to the readers, hench a bad story usually). they are all different, or should be. pull that out. show what they can and cant do; what they will and wont do. where's their breaking point? what would motivate them to kill someone? to kill for someone, to die for someone? under what conditions would they act completely opposite from normal?

    its a good way to brainstorm up a quick little idea, and go with it. once you've toyed with it a while, a more solid plot usually begins to develop. THATs where the outlining comes in, so long as its a guide, and not irrivocably decreed by some all-powerful being. some of the most fun writing is letting your characters do what you never thought they would. makes for good literature.

    ex: would anyone have liked Boromir from lotr nearly as much, if he hadnt died in the end, trying to protect the hobbits?

    sonicrupture on
  • IriahIriah Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    This should really be stickied.

    Iriah on
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    sonicrupture: that's something very close to my heart. I've always felt that you can have fantastical and unbelievable settings (whether through magic and technology) but as long as the characters are believably human (unless they're soulless robots or something) then the whole thing will work.

    If they react in a way which is not only understandable but also relatable, then even if we're talking about Jim's fight against a 60ft killer robot we can understand and emphasise with the kind of hardship he's facing. Well... to a degree.

    And as a writer, if you start thinking about why your characters are doing something, rather than just because your plot outline calls for it, it becomes far more interesting to write about the events you'd only touched upon in the planning stage (even though that might've just consisted of you having one brilliant thought during a coffee break).


    And to touch on archetypes (to throw in a totally unrelated point), I feel that sometimes people need to remember that real people fall into the kind of categories jaded readers keep citing as cliches. I really have had loudmouth comedy friends. I really have had evil-minded sadistic teachers without a drop of ability. To tell me the soldier is ludicrous when I'm related to his real-life inspiration- and have witnessed his drunken attempts to chat up a chair with a coat on it- makes me goggle :lol:


    Oh, and Iriah: damn right.

    See? Even real people (albeit unstable ones) have catchphrases! I've said that... three times now!

    Edcrab on
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  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Edcrab wrote:
    And to touch on archetypes (to throw in a totally unrelated point), I feel that sometimes people need to remember that real people fall into the kind of categories jaded readers keep citing as cliches. I really have had loudmouth comedy friends. I really have had evil-minded sadistic teachers without a drop of ability. To tell me the soldier is ludicrous when I'm related to his real-life inspiration- and have witnessed his drunken attempts to chat up a chair with a coat on it- makes me goggle :lol:

    While I understand what you're saying, I don't think it's ever good enough to say 'Oh, well I knew someone like that'or 'Oh well I actually saw a documentary about it' to excuse a character who is unbelievable.

    The truth is, fact is stranger than fiction, in the sense that when people see a completely stereotypical or bizzare person in real life, they'll believe it, because, well, it's reality. You don't get the benefit of the doubt when you're writing. If characters demonstrate weird or sociopathic tendencies, you have to explain to your audience why, or at least make it believable from an internal-motivation point of view.

    That may come across as obvious, but I've seen quite a few people defend their work's shoddy characterization by saying 'But it really happened!' Not good enough!

    bsjezz on
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  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    bsjezz wrote:

    While I understand what you're saying, I don't think it's ever good enough to say 'Oh, well I knew someone like that'or 'Oh well I actually saw a documentary about it' to excuse a character who is unbelievable.

    The truth is, fact is stranger than fiction, in the sense that when people see a completely stereotypical or bizzare person in real life, they'll believe it, because, well, it's reality. You don't get the benefit of the doubt when you're writing. If characters demonstrate weird or sociopathic tendencies, you have to explain to your audience why, or at least make it believable from an internal-motivation point of view.

    That may come across as obvious, but I've seen quite a few people defend their work's shoddy characterization by saying 'But it really happened!' Not good enough!

    Very true, but the opposite extreme is people claiming that such things can't happen (because its so at odds with their world view) no matter how much you justify it. Personally I've never done it myself (at least not to my knowledge- if anything, people complain my casts are dull) but I've seen plenty of reviewers relying on that sort of fallacy.

    Granted it can be a very lazy writing technique, but any cliche (or rather, over-familiar plot element) can be uninspired and unwelcomed if there's not a justifiable- or at least enjoyable- reason for its existence: case in point, man dropping his pants and mooning someone early in a story.

    Sure, you might know someone who did that in real life, but unless he's a) on mind altering substances b) a hallucination or c) had a long history of abuse at the hands of the person he's mooning and you make that clear, it's perfectly understandable that people think you've gone mad :)

    And I'm using italics all the damn time now. Help me.

    Edcrab on
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  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Edcrab wrote:
    a) on mind altering substances b) a hallucination or c) had a long history of abuse at the hands of the person he's mooning

    Wait, you forgot d) at the cricket.

    It's interesting though, when you think of how people convey meaning through fiction, you might even say in some cases it's essential to have larger-than-life, 'representative' characters who symbolize a concept or an emotion in ways that is, in the long run, unrealistic.

    I guess at the end of the day readers are easy to sway - they want to believe in your grand fiction, and if you give them even a little bit of an excuse to buy into a character or event which will have a significant impact on the narrative, then they usually will. But I think you have to work them up into that train of thought, you have to convince them to suspend disbelief by showing that you can write in meaningful ways.

    Oh my I am ranting.

    bsjezz on
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  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ah, but what an insightful rant! It's just like how people can suspend their disbelief that a man can fly, but not that his colleagues fail to spot his secret identify when he dons regular clothes and a pair of glasses...

    Edcrab on
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  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    This is a good thread.

    DouglasDanger on
    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited January 2007
    gets my vote for a sticky. Also, I'm going to begin just sending people to this thread if they need advice on writing. Here's another little one too.

    Passive voice. Avoid if whenever you can. It slows down your prose. if you see it, kill it.

    Munacra on
  • BrinkBrink Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    I'd love to sticky this. But we have too many stickies. Mosey on into the chat thread and tell me which ones we can do away with. Even if we only get one vote for one other thread, this one will take its place.

    Brink on
    ;)
  • MasterDebaterMasterDebater Registered User
    edited January 2007
    I took fiction writing last quarter, and had a great prof. Some of his tips:

    1. The best way to come up with a story is to come up with a character and then have something horrible happen to him/her.
    2. The first line of your story is the most important, because that's where 90% of readers decide if they're going to keep reading. Don't overdo it, but draw the reader in, even if it makes them do a double take.
    3. Don't get fancy until you master the basics. Yes, we may read stories with 60-page sentences, but that doesn't mean YOU can do it yet.

    MasterDebater on
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  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited January 2007
    I read a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which was just one big long sentence.

    It sucked.

    if he can't do it, neither can we.

    Munacra on
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited January 2007
    Here's the secret behind my bigass crits.

    TWB Critique guideline
    By Munacra

    Author:
    Title:

    BBCODE POST:

    [paragraph by paragraph commentary goes here]

    Things to think about.
    A. Opening
    B. Conflict
    C. Plot
    D. Setting
    E. Characterization
    F. Dialogue
    G. Point of View
    H. Show versus tell
    I. Format of the text
    J. Grammar and spelling
    K. Style
    A. Tone.
    B. Anachronisms or Freudian slips.
    C. Usage/Confusion errors.
    D. "Taking the reader for granted."
    E. Lack of variation in sentence length or sentence structure
    F. Excessive use of passive voice.
    G. Internal dialog passing for emotions or plot.
    L. Analysis of major characters.
    M. Discussion of themes motifs and symbols:
    A. Themes
    B. Motifs
    C. Symbols

    Munacra on
  • IriahIriah Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    I knew you'd all listen to me with the sticky business (olol)

    And Munacra doesn't know his alphabets.

    That's right.

    Bets.

    With an 's'.

    Iriah on
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited February 2007
    No I do, but it didn't format right :?

    Munacra on
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Be stingy with your words as if every next one is your last.

    Munacra on
  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited February 2007
    SHOW, DON'T TELL GODDAMIT!

    Munacra on
  • EdcrabEdcrab Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    But don't show constantly, because the likes of Adams and Pratchett teach us that conversation, reaction, and inner thought can give just as much of an insight into a situation: provided you like that style :wink:

    And clearly I'm only trying to contradict you because of the triple post, Munacra :P

    Edcrab on
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  • J. GrantJ. Grant Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    Munacra wrote:
    SHOW, DON'T TELL GODDAMIT!

    Since I've relented on the whole "not posting here" thing, I'll toss my hat in this particular ring:

    What, exactly, do you mean by "Show, don't tell?"

    I've spent plenty of time discussing this issue with other authors, some of them fairly large names. Please elaborate on this over-used and hardly understood catchphrase that's been taking the Interwebs by storm.

    J. Grant on
  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    J. Grant wrote:
    Munacra wrote:
    SHOW, DON'T TELL GODDAMIT!

    Since I've relented on the whole "not posting here" thing, I'll toss my hat in this particular ring:

    What, exactly, do you mean by "Show, don't tell?"

    I've spent plenty of time discussing this issue with other authors, some of them fairly large names. Please elaborate on this over-used and hardly understood catchphrase that's been taking the Interwebs by storm.

    Telling:
    Jake was scared.

    Showing:
    Jake swallowed a lump in his throat, and felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

    Bad example because of the cliches, but that's the general idea.

    Zsetrek on
  • J. GrantJ. Grant Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    Telling:
    Jake was scared.

    Showing:
    Jake swallowed a lump in his throat, and felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

    Bad example because of the cliches, but that's the general idea.

    Now find me one published novel that follows this rule stringently. No, wait. I've read one - it was shite.

    No, really. Name a book you enjoyed that followed this rule more often than not.

    J. Grant on
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Showing versus telling is a pretty time-tested rule when it comes to writing good fiction. Following on from Zsetrek, a good example is dialogue:
    "I'm scared," said Jake. He was terrified.

    is telling.
    "I'm scared," said Jake. "Oh god, oh god, oh god..."

    is showing.

    Show don't tell is basically a just handy slogan to remind yourself to demonstrate the properties a character or setting through their actions rather than attributing it to them without evidence. In the end it makes it a lot more convincing if someone actually does something, as opposed to having the narrator tell them about it.

    As a mantra it's best used against new writers who instantly feel compelled to writing imageless, expository prose. It's certainly not the be all and end all of writing, but in a lot of cases people really need to learn to act out scenes in their fiction as opposed to telling us about it from a detatched place.

    bsjezz on
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  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    J. Grant wrote:
    No, really. Name a book you enjoyed that followed this rule more often than not.

    A Farewell to Arms. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

    Carver and Hemingway take the rule to its extremes, but again, it's not about applying it to every sentence. It's about convincing people who use to much exposition to get down to images and dialogue.

    bsjezz on
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  • J. GrantJ. Grant Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    bsjezz wrote:
    Showing versus telling is a pretty time-tested rule when it comes to writing good fiction.

    Understood. I didn't say I didn't know what it meant, I wanted to see if you did. And, as I've demonstrated to people again and again, it's not really a good phrase to throw around.

    For one thing, some of the better writing out there has big fat chunks of telling rather than showing - Moby Dick comes to mind, as does Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. On the other hand, too many people attempt to over-show, and what you end up with is horrible, unreadable crap.

    Rather than using this slightly inaccurate saying, one could say
    "I'm scared," said Jake. He was terrified.
    is horrible shit because it's redundant - either Jake should say he's scared, or he should BE scared, but don't include both.
    "I'm scared," said Jake. "Oh god, oh god, oh god..."
    may be showing, but it's also major overkill. If nothing else, rip out everything before the first "oh god."

    I have said this to many people over the years: "Show, Don't Tell" is a useless saying.

    J. Grant on
  • ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    J. Grant wrote:
    I've read one

    You've read a book? I'm surprised. I thought go-getter action-men such as youself spent their days locked in darkened rooms perfecting their craft in perfect isolation.

    Zsetrek on
  • J. GrantJ. Grant Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2007
    Zsetrek wrote:
    I thought
    LIES.

    If you want to take my words out of context and make infantile jokes a high-school student would be ashamed to use, let's take it to SE++.

    J. Grant on
  • squeefishsqueefish Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    Edit: never mind. I'm done. I'm just sick of being talked down to :P

    squeefish on
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited February 2007
    J. Grant wrote:
    Rather than using this slightly inaccurate saying, one could say
    "I'm scared," said Jake. He was terrified.
    is horrible shit because it's redundant - either Jake should say he's scared, or he should BE scared, but don't include both.

    You're probably right, because a lot of people who this rule best applies to both show and tell. They'll write a redundant phrase without realising that they've pretty much already shown it to us through action and dialogue. So maybe it should be altered to SHOW > TELL, AND DON'T DO BOTH.

    It's not a useless rule, but I do agree it can be easily misconstrued. I took it too seriously early on and as a result a lot of my prose ended up terribly dry, and it's been a hard habit to break out of.

    bsjezz on
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  • MunacraMunacra Registered User
    edited February 2007
    Show don't tell.

    Actions speak louder than words. In real life and in prose.

    Flannery O' Connor is a very good example of a writer that shows you what her characters are feeling.

    J. Grant...whatever.

    Munacra on
  • Squirrel NinjaSquirrel Ninja Registered User
    edited February 2007
    I find that people can sometimes get too desperate in their opening sentences. They try to make their opening an "o crap moment", somthing blows up or someone dies, but your not sure why. Moments like these are wasted in topic sentances, sure somthing dramatic is hapinng, but if the reader doesnt no why or who its hapening to why should they care. My favorite book, 1984, opens as such,

    "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.".

    It's not flashy or overstated, but it sets the mood for the story and evokes questions in the readers mind. Questions are what keep people reading. Why are they on military time, why is the setting so gloomy, what is significant about 1984. On an unrelated note, I hate when novels come up with cool compelling characters and do nothing with them. All characters should be dynamic in, at least some respect, unless you have a damn good reason for not doing so.

    Squirrel Ninja on
  • CarnivoreCarnivore Registered User
    edited February 2007
    I find it quite useful to put actors to characters, only on a temp basis when fleshing them out.

    It helps you just get things on the page. You dont need descriptions so much, because unless its important to the plot you want to gloss over it quickly (she had black hair and piercing eyes is plenty for even a main character). If you just imagine your hero as Tom Cruise, it helps you get the plot down and the dialogue without having to wonder how they look, or their accent or stuff like that. If you go on the principle that the reader knows this too then it works well.

    Whenever I read a book I always put actors or people I know to characters. For the longest time I read the Discworld books and had Lord Vetinari as Jeremy Irons. I just did. He looks nothing like him, doesnt portray his mannerisms but it helped me engage the plot. Same with Detritus (for the longest time I just misread it as Dentritus) and imagined the troll to look like the trolls from Lord of the Rings, small and spindly, EVEN though in the books Pratchett explicitly describes him as huge and rock-like.

    Every reader is going to be guilty of this. Sometimes its best to just cut and run and barely describe your characters physical appearances at all. Shit, just say they are tall with glasses, thats often all you need. You put in the description later, like 3 chapters in the main character looks in a mirror for self reflection, gussies themself up. That's my 'Tarantino trunk scene'.

    That said, sometimes its best to really go deep into a description of a character. Especially if you are writing from a 1st person. How that character feels towards another person is just as much affected by their looks then their character.

    Also, I like to write my stuff back to front. Start your book with your main character reflecting on what just happened. Unless your work is in a diary style your 1st person narrative will always be past tense otherwise it feels wrong (the main culprit I feel of this mistake is Patterson with the Cross novels, just doesnt work).

    So you start off in what you might describe as an 'aftermath' scenario, and let your character delve into what just happened. This is as cliched a narrative style as any but it works. It really does work well. Well, at least I like employing that technique.
    Ill post more when I can write up something bigger. Ill expound on my Tarantino Trunk scene thing. Thats the best piece of writing advice I ever had.

    Carnivore on
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  • CarnivoreCarnivore Registered User
    edited February 2007
    The Tarantino Trunk Scene.

    Basically, this comes from Tarantino. In most of his films he has this camera shot from inside a car trunk, looking up at the characters. It is iconic, it is well known and it works on so many levels for character development.

    Firstly, the hardest thing to do is get your characters to look at the camera, in film of course, without looking false. If they look into a trunk, or into a mirror, you get a much more personal reflection of their emotions than if they look into the distance.

    In writing, this works in several ways. Unless you are writing in 1st person (I hate writing 1st person, it feels so restrictive to me) you have limited options for first hand character relations with the reader. This is where the Tarantino Trunk Scene comes in.

    Everyone talks to themself. Whether in their head or not, they always talk to themself. In real life. In a book, what you want is a character making the implicit explicit, but without directly stating it.

    Example:

    You want to convey that a character is relieved after a huge firefight in which 3 friends died, but also that he has regret and anger.

    You could just describe this, just like that.

    'Jimmy was angry. Those fuckers took out his whole squad, every last one. He breathed a sigh of relief though, as the action was over'

    This is so wooden its not even worth commenting on. Your readers are human, they know that if you see 3 friends die you are gonna be shaken.

    What I do is a self thought scene. This is one half of the trunk scene analogy.

    You get them in bathroom, or infront of a mirror. They wash their face. stare into the mirror and then you can put in a monologue, outloud or silent. You can recap the scene you just wrote, meaning you can trim bulk from the previous passages. Their hands shake.

    Someone could walk in on them, ask how they are. They can bond etc. This is used so often in film and works just as well in book form. Dont write a script though, keep it natural, keep it liquid.

    The other part of the trunk scene thing is that iconic narrative. If you intend to write more than one work, you have to have a style. You have to have that thing that noone else has. Even if you have the greatest plot in the world, if you just describe it like some high school essay you will fall flat. You need zest. You need style.
    Tolkien used extensive descriptions. When you read Lord of the Rings, you get lost in this beautifully realised world of Middle Earth.
    When you read House of Leaves, you get involved with the book, a tactile imprint with the reader who has to read the passages, pour over the footnotes and appendices, flip the book over and read back to front. Its a draw.
    When you read Palahulik (I hate him but whatever) you have cutting dialogue, terrific visuals and a real sense of 'crossing the line'.
    You have to have this. You cant just write a story. A child writes a story. You have to tell a story, and the delivery is almost more important than the content. Engage with the reader, flip the narrative. Put in erroneous scenes, put in red herrings, have long scenes of meaningless dialogue that build character, have them talk about nothing for a long time and you captivate your audience.

    Always remember, you have to get across the plot. But some of the best books I have read are almost just character studies. 90% of the books are just dialogue and scenes of interaction.

    For example:

    If you have a murder mystery story, you dont want to wrap your reader up in a thousand minutae little details, such as the fingerprint analysis or the crime scene investigation. Just have your two detectives talking in a bar about sports. People like just looking in on other peoples lives, and this is true in books too. Keep the plot going, but dont pad it with meaningless story.

    I find that the Trunk Scene can shape a novel. Start with it. What part of your story is the Matrix Lobby Scene. What is the part they will remember. My favorite books of late are House of Leaves and World War Z. Battle of Yonkers is a great scene. Its iconic. You remember the book because of it. In House of Leaves, the first 2 exploration film scenes are memorable. You sit there just imagining what this black corridor would look like. Sure the character study in that book is brilliant, but it has to have context.

    I think Im starting to ramble a bit. Hope some of this is of use. Just remember, that show dont tell thing is bullshit. There is nothing wrong with saying Jimmy was scared. In fact, if you keep leaving it up to the reader to calculate it with constant Jimmy was sweating, Jimmy was shaking, they will get sick of it.
    Tell them your story. If you want to reveal in the first paragraph who the killer is, do it. If you want the main character to die halfway, do it. As long as it has purpose and meaning to the story. Make sure you dont 'beat around the bush'. Get to the point. Cut the bullshit and keep it simple. The comments on purple passages are so true, but not just for passages. It works for whole pieces of work. Keep it lean, and pad out with character, not plot. If your whole story is simply 3 people are trapped on a mountain, dont pad it with sinister deception, or failed rescue attempts. Keep it real. Focus on character.

    Carnivore on
    hihi.jpg
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