James R. Tuck
Character and Plot. The two things you need to make a book. (Please don’t cite me examples of books that have one but not the other. Those are outliers and not the main thrust of books.) Generally speaking those are the requirements.
Now for most folks, myself included, character is actually pretty easy. They come swaggering up in our heads all badass and near fully fleshed out. The plots? They’re a different story. Plots are tricky little devils and hard to get hold of sometimes.
But that’s because we overthink them.
We do. As writers our brains are moving 90 to nothing and cruising top speed down multiple tracks. We mix our plot up with the following things: Character, Backstory, World-building, Themes, and Motives.
But we don’t need that for the actual plot.
The plot is the skeleton you hang all that [...]
Continue reading PLOTTING WITH BUNNIES (or whatever other animal you like. Want a hippopotamus? By all means, plot with hippos.)
I have written about point of view many times before. A couple of years ago I did a whole series of posts on it, and one of my “Creative Intersections” posts earlier this year dealt with POV as it related to worldbuilding.
But here I am again writing about POV, and there is a reason for this. During the course of the summer, I attended several conventions, and I also taught a writers’ workshop up in Calgary. And it seemed that at every turn I would bring one writing issue or another back to POV. It happened so often, that I began to rethink one of my own foundational beliefs about writing. I have said for years that I believe character to be the single most important element of successful storytelling. I realize now that this is not quite true. To my mind, the most important element of storytelling is [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View
This week I will begin writing Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth book in the Thieftaker Chronicles. For those of you who are fans of the series, don’t panic. Book three, A Plunder of Souls, is not yet out and won’t be for close to a year. Authors are almost always at least a full book ahead of the publication schedule. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet read book two, Thieves’ Quarry, all I can say is what the hell are you waiting for…?
I spent part of last week outlining the book, and thought that I would return to the subject of outlines and pantsing, since it is something that still comes up quite a bit on this site and also in panels. I know that we talk about there being no single right way to do any of this, and I still believe that. But in this [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Outlining Vs. Pantsing Revisited
I have a confession to make: I ***HATE*** dream sequences and drug sequences in my books, movies, and television shows. (You might think that I’m being a bit too forceful, with stars, capital letters, bold, and increased font size. Believe me, I’m not. My goal is to make you understand the depth of my emotion on this topic.)
I get it. Authors want to convey information outside the mainstream of their narrative. They want to show a character’s inner self, her secret motivations, his true core beliefs. They want to demonstrate what happens when a character is plucked from all that is familiar and normative and thrust into a world where none of standard rules apply.
But when I read these scenes, or when I watch them, all I get is a disconnect from the story. All of the creator’s careful worldbuilding, the contract between the author/director and the reader/viewer, [...]
Continue reading Dreams, Drugs, and Yawning
James R. Tuck
As a writer and as a human I must admit, I am a bit of an egotist. Occasionally I swerve over to arrogant assdom, but mostly I reel it in and keep it entertaining.
But often, like the slip of the drunk cousin at the church social, my ego shows in my writing for the world to see.
You see, all my stories are set in the same universe, some more obviously than others, but all of them there. I don’t have a name for it, though I’m leaning toward the Spiralverse.
The Spiralverse is a universe built on the concept that major events cause a resonance that splits reality into a new timeline placed on a new earth. They are all interconnected and separate at the same time. Now this isn’t anything new. It’s been done a hundred million ways. Almost every comic book publisher has one shared universe [...]
Continue reading CREATING A UNIVERSE (it takes a lot more than seven days)
Today (Sunday), my older daughter was graduated from high school. It has been an emotional weekend, full of celebration, of wistful remembrance, of joyful anticipation of adventures and journeys to come.
Throughout the various events, as I have watched my child take these first decisive steps into adulthood, even as she still smiles at me with a face that doesn’t seem to have changed at all in the past eighteen years, I have found myself thinking about many things, most of them having nothing at all to do with writing. But I have given a good deal of thought to the notion of narrative, to the ways in which we humans seek to shape a coherent story out of events and circumstances and milestones that do not necessarily lend themselves to a coherent progression of “plot points.”
It seems to me that we do this at moments like these. A [...]
Continue reading On Creativity: Narrative, Fiction, and Life
This week I return to my series of posts on Creative intersections. Thus far, I have discussed point of view and worldbuilding, plot and character development, and worldbuilding and plot. Today, I am going to address plotting once again, and combine it with a discussion of pacing.
In my opinion, pacing is one of the most difficult elements of storytelling to master. We all have read books that seem to drag at certain times or that become so frenetic that they are almost impossible to read. And yet, I would never suggest that you try to make your pace consistent throughout an entire novel; to my mind, novels, like great pieces of music, have mixed dynamics. There are slower passages and fast ones, periods where everything is loud and exciting, and periods of calm, during which your readers have a chance to catch their collective breath. The key is, how [...]
Continue reading Creative Intersections: Pacing and Plotting