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Cal's Soapbox #2



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Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:29 am
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Caligula's Launderette says...



Cal's Hyde Park Corner Soapbox

The Business

1. Pitch.

You must consider the emotional investment you put into writing. There are all sorts of metaphors about a piece of writing being your baby. I particularly favor the Capote quote that smaur put forth for quote of the week. “Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the yard and shot it.”

The writer must be prepared to work as hard as you want to get towards your ideal end product. Know how much you are willing to give to your project.

If you know what mood you want in your piece, are you going to work harder than usual to achieve it? Be prepared to experience the spectrum of human emotions while writing. Foremost, understand that how much you put into the work will dictate the output.

2. Ooops!


Don’t bite off more than you can chew. At it’s worst this can lead you to stop progress and scrap your work, and that’s not something you want.

Large mouthfuls include:

- too many characters; this is a particular pitfall of mine, silly me. ;)
- too many things that need constant explication, like sub-plots
- info-dumps, *slays those*
- a number of Hero Syndromes, i.e. a protagonist has gone from liked to worshiped
- get so caught up in the formation of your story, and all the research that you forget or don’t actually write it. This is quite easy to do in fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction.

3. Form follows Function.

Snoink is particularly skilled at this. What it means is that if you have a story divided into chapters, or parts, or whatevers, analyze each of them separately at the emotion content in each. If part of the character is dragging perhaps chop up that chapter into two, add more action; the big thing is to keep your emotional content consistent.

Characters need recovery, if they have just been on a rampant arc of action, give them time to pause and reflect. It doesn’t have to be as long as the action.

FREAK is divided into parts, and from there chapters, and if you look at the chapters singularly you will find that the emotional consistency remains at a very high level, and does not tend to change. Snoink does not over exert her characters. Overall, reading FREAK is like riding a roller coaster at Six Flags. A really, really fun roller coaster.

Yours,
Cal.
Fraser: Stop stealing the blanket.
[Diefenbaker whines]
Fraser: You're an Arctic Wolf, for God's sake.
(Due South)

Hatter: Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a very wet dress? (Alice)

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Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:55 pm
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Rydia says...



Section two is very accurate. I've fallen into each of those pit falls at least once and they really are the destruction of a novel. I think I'd add another though - Too much action. A writer needs to take the time to add a little characterization, some description, some history and those are done best in some nice, calm scenes. Books that have action on every single page don't give their reader a chance to digest the information they have been given. And they soon lose that important aspect of realism.
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Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:10 pm
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Leja says...



too many characters; this is a particular pitfall of mine, silly me.


I've found that when I have too many characters, I can often combine two or three into one, super-ly-good character of awesomeness ^_^ I'm particularly familiar with this and other large-mouthful undertakings in the Oops section.

I particularly liked the form/function section. Very helpful (as always)!
  








Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
— Joseph Campbell