...Even if it means it's uncomfortable and hard to write.
...Even if it feels like you're going to scare some readers away.
...Even if it bares your soul.
Want to know how to show your character's desire in a way that makes your reader FEEEEEEEL it?
Read this, then tell me...
What does your character desire?
I can't agree enough. Editing is a grueling process. Don't settle. Don't give up.
What does it accomplish?
I'm really asking. Share and analyze it in the comments. =)
First priority: raising curiosity
Second priority: presenting the circumstances (particularly showing that something is different or about to be)
Third priority: characterization OR orienting the protagonist within the events
The Total First Chapter Guide:
Punctuate with action. Like leaving.
Don't let it get drawn out and flimsy.
A drawn out argument loses punch, and makes us wonder why neither is putting their foot down or compromising. It makes the positions look weak and the emotions seem insincere.
Action solidifies a position and makes us believe they mean it. Makes us believe they feel it.
Not open to negotiation? Leave.
Ready to fight? Throw a punch.
Bonus: Give them attitudes and multiple things to argue over, then let subtext reign. Even if it lasts longer, this adds substance and keeps the exchange from seeming flimsy and insincere.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how to explain the creation of curiosity instead of confusion. For storytelling, it's especially important for first lines. It's the ability to imply enough that the situation is guessable. Norman Rockwell's Happy Birthday Mrs. Jones is a perfect example.
(And yes, this piece is a bit out of date and the museum is now slotted for Los Angeles instead. Either way, I hope to go see it sometime. Or many times.)
You get obedience from a dog and cooperation from a cat.
Becoming The Trusted One takes patience and total commitment to not betraying that trust.
(I love it when she purrs when I pet her paws. You'd never know she was a bit of a touch-me-not.)
You need three great scenes and no weak ones.
For the definition of a great scene, I would add Jordan Rosenfeld's definition of a scene, "Scenes are capsules in which compelling characters undertake significant actions in a vivid and memorable way that allows the events to feel as though they are happening in real time" to Bell's "Passions run high; stakes run higher. What happens in the scene affects the rest of the story, and in a big way."
I generally prefer to emphasize aiming to write well over avoiding weak writing because avoiding weak writing is an uphill mindset with a tendency to stop at "good enough" or invite shallow rules, but in this case Gray gives us a measuring stick and a good solid rule...
"Would a tired, overworked editor be tempted to put the ms. down there? If yes, it's weak. Either cut the scene or make it matter."
What do you think? What are your thoughts on how to shape (or strengthen) a plot?
Check out the full article:
...Like this post on four different ways to create conflict so your plot isn't one-dimensional, where he expands on a Writing Excuses podcast and makes it even more useful:
Have I made my point? Follow this collection. =)
Filed under Geekery.
- Writingeekery.comFiction Coach and Editor, present
- Writingeekery (current)
- Goals are more powerful than rules. Know your goal and you can discard the rule.
- The more you understand about your story, your characters, your world, the more inspiration and options are open to you.
- Deep, complex characters are the strongest, most fascinating characters you can have.
- Never stop learning. Never assume someone knows everything about the craft. Never assume you know "enough." Never assume it will be easy.
- Your process will likely be unique. Follow the path that works for you, for your story.
- Try new things. It's part of learning, and it's part of finding your process.
- Plot and character are equally important. Each fuels the other.
- Understand the rules to break them effectively. This ties back to knowing your goals.
Profile photo taken by +Fabien Andablo
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