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 [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View
I am back from an extended vacation with my family, which ended with a glorious week on the North Carolina coast. I am tanned and reasonably relaxed, and am already getting ready to leave town again first thing tomorrow morning. (This has been a crazed summer: by the time the two months between July 1 and September 1 are done, I will have spent forty days on the road. Signing tour, vacation, conventions, oh, and taking my daughter to college.) Tomorrow I head to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, where I will be running a two day writer’s workshop and then will be Guest of Honor at WhenWordsCollide.
As part of my preparation for the workshop, I have been reading manuscripts submitted by those who will be attending. Using a structure very similar to that outlined by Mindy in her fabulous post from Friday, I write editorial letters to the students [...]
Continue reading Lessons Learned While Preparing for a Writer’s Workshop
Diana Pharaoh Francis
The amazing thing about Charles Dickens’ writing (or one of them) is that all his minor characters feel round and whole–like they are real people with lives and dreams and hopes and fears. Like they continue to exist when they walk off the page. I imagine that he puffed them up and stirred in some magic and made them dance across his pages, then when he was through, he ironed them out, then put them back in a box until they were needed again. I do my best to follow his example.
But there is one character who is very difficult to write–the one who is too ___________ (fill in the blank) to be true. In the case of my example today, too mean to be true. I’m thinking about real people who are so obnoxious, so batshit crazy, arrogant, mean, condescending, self-centered, shitty, angry, and so on, that they [...]
Continue reading Cardboard Characters (and share the weird)
James R. Tuck
So I picked up a book called THE FIRST 50 PAGES by Jeff Gerke the other day because, well, I have a book buying problem. (TBR pile is 68 at last count and I KNOW I’ve gotten a ton more books since then)
Anyways, I wanted to share some advice he gives that to me seemed pretty golden.
Here’s the sum up:
Think of your book as a movie. Telling is anything you write that THE CAMERA DOES NOT SEE.
Stop and think about it.
Let it sink in.
I know how we writers are. We feel like the reader needs to know all the back story to really understand what we are trying to write….the ins and outs of the plot, the history and texture of the worlds and characters we have created so lovingly.
They don’t. They don’t need to know anything that doesn’t directly [...]
Continue reading I’LL SHOW YOU NOT TELLING (something I read somewheres)
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
On Monday, our own Mindy Klasky started a series on how she writes a synopsis, which I am dying to read because … uh … I have no idea how I do it. I mean, I do it, I write them, but I don’t know if I do it right. I know I must have my own way of constructing a synopsis because I have never read anyone else’s synopsis. Synopses. (shrugs) I’ve learned a lot from the other writers here at MagicalWords.net, and I am looking forward to her process.
Through MW, I have discovered one major way in which Mindy and David (and probably everyone else for that matter) do character research and planning in the pre-writing phase. They have their characters histories fully fleshed out, sometimes down to their childhood sports injuries, their pets’ names, the schools they went to (the characters, not the pets) and their [...]
Continue reading Character Preparation … Stuff I Don’t Do
Once upon a time, I read a book about an ordinary woman in everyday contemporary society who wakes up to find an elf in her kitchen. She says, “Hey, what are you?” and he says, “Me? I’m an elf.” They proceed to have coffee and chit-chat, as if nothing at all is out of the ordinary.
Now, there’s a fantasy novel where that could happen — where people regularly confront the supernatural, where they have no understanding of boundaries in their natural history, where the extraordinary is absolutely ordinary.
But there was nothing about this book that made me believe that the kitchen-owner lived in such a world. Every aspect of her world was presented as identical to the one that I live in. And I can tell you that if an elf showed up in my kitchen — be he a tall, glamorous, Tolkien-ish elf, or a small, [...]
Continue reading The Elf in the Kitchen