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Banespawn

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Banespawn last won the day on April 10

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  1. This happens to me sometimes when writing specific scenes because I lose focus of what the purpose of the scene is. When that happens, I take a step back and determine what the goals are for the scene. What are the characters trying to accomplish at that moment? What information am I trying to impart to the reader? How can I best craft the scene to show the characters doing what they need to be doing, while also hitting the notes I want to hit? It sounds like your issue is on a larger scale, but IMO it always goes back to goals. What are Alana's goals? What is she trying to achieve? Developing friendships is fine, but that's likely not something that she is actively pursuing. If you have her going on a journey, it's because she needs to get somewhere. Why? What is the purpose of the trip? How is that purpose served if she doesn't make the trip?
  2. Banespawn

    Subtlety

    Subtlety can be considered an extension of "Show, Don't Tell". It is the art of saying something without saying it, implying rather than stating. One of my favorite books on writing, "The First Five Pages" by Noah Lukeman, has this to say about subtlety: "Although the focus of this book is what can be wrong in a manuscript, if we were to stop and ask what best signals the proficient writer, the answer would be subtlety. Subtlety is the mark of confidence and is thus by far the hardest thing for a writer to achieve. A writer who is confident need not prove anything, need not try to grab attention with spates of stylism or hyperbole or melodrama. A writer who is subtle is in no rush; he can pace himself, prolong tension, suspense and even dialogue for hundreds of pages. He can hint, foreshadow ever so slightly, set things up hundreds of pages in advance. He will often leave things unsaid, may even employ a bit of confusion, and often allow you to come to your own conclusions." "The unsubtle writer will condescend to the reader, hit him over the head with obvious information, tell him things he already knows and generally repeat things (sometimes to the word)." "...the unsubtle writer will often tell in addition to show" The varying degrees to which you imply things within your story is a measure of subtlety. You may want to be less subtle when steering the reader toward a red herring, while you might want to employ a larger degree of subtlety when foreshadowing something that will prove to be critically important later in the story. How do you employ subtlety within your story? What things do you imply that you want the reader to pick up on, either at the time or later in the story? How do you use subtlety to get the reader to go where you want them to go, to come to the conclusions you want them to have?
  3. I guess motivation is the thing for me, or more specifically, butt in chair. I feel like my writing is good enough to be published, but I'm not committed enough to get the writing done to the point where anyone would publish it. One of the axioms I've heard is "fake it until you make it", which basically means, act like you are a professional writer until you get to the point where you actually are a professional writer. That is where I typically fail. I have a hard time getting to the end. Description for me isn't really a problem. I probably don't focus on all 5 senses enough, but I do well to incorporate description into my narrative. The key thing with description is to not think of it as something separate from the rest of the story. If you weave your descriptions into the action, then it becomes 2nd nature to include it.
  4. I like coming up with chapter titles. I even do scene titles. They are a short-hand for me to know what the scene is about. They may or may not end up in the final draft, or I might just keep the chapter titles. In any case, chapter titles aren't necessary. Many books just number the chapters and leave it at that. I have nothing against naming the chapter after the POV character. I didn't bother me at all when GRRM did it. It let me know right away that the POV was changing and that I could put the book down if I didn't want to start another POV at that time. Yes, the narrative does that anyway and GRRM is very good at that, so the titles probably aren't needed, but I don't think they hurt the story in any way. With multiple 1st person, I can see using names as chapter titles. Yes, each character should have a distinct voice and it should be clear enough from the context who the POV is without naming them, but naming the chapter after the character removes all doubt from the reader. They aren't left trying to figure it out via the context clues. Also, by naming the chapter after the character in 1st person, the author isn't obligated to force the name into the narrative. It's easy to forget the names of the POV characters in 1st person. Having the name as the chapter title helps in that regard.
  5. This is the opening to a novel that is currently only 1 scene long (it's still in the planning stages, but I had enough to write the first scene). The rest of the scene after this isn't very good, but I like this first bit because of how much information is given to the reader without stopping the action. Natani crouched behind her hut, hidden from all view, and vomited. When her stomach finally stopped heaving, she wiped her mouth and stared down at the effusion of her blasphemy. Her body had rejected the Mother's gift. She grabbed a stone and used it to rub the vomit into the dirt, erasing the evidence. She returned to the Circle where the rest of the tribe sat in quiet contemplation of their meal. It was always a somber experience when consuming the Mother's gift. The bones had been picked clean and for that, Natani was grateful, despite the hollow pain in her belly. She filled a stone bowl with water and went to sit next to Raigan. They shared a spot on the ground, south of the cookfire. The smell of charred flesh lingered on the air with no breeze to chase it away. The Mother, her effigy standing watch over the tribe, held back the wind and the ice and the cold. But She hadn't saved Jogo. Natani drew deeply from the bowl, the cool water washing away the bitter tastes in her mouth, leaving only memory. She had eaten the flesh of the fallen before and taken pride in their sacrifice. Why could she not do the same for her brother? Raigan popped the last of the meat into his mouth and licked his fingers to show respect. His face betrayed no sign of the turmoil Natani felt, nor any other emotion. In a dozen more turnings of the moon, he would be old enough to join the hunt, and then it might be his bones blackening over the cook fire.
  6. I would recommend sticking to a single POV. You can go 1st person or 3rd person, but you really want to have an engaging voice for the character, which might be easier to do in 1st person. Nailing that POV and voice is critical for MG books.
  7. I try to make my villains more morally gray than straight up evil, and I like to have multiple antagonists at various levels, each with their own agenda. I also like to insert plot twists that change the reader's perception of the antagonists, making them less of a villain in some cases. Severus Snape was a great antagonist for just that reason. I rarely give antagonists much, if any, POV time. I write fantasy, but there is a very heavy dose of mystery in my stories, and getting inside the head of the antagonists will often ruin the mystery. Villains need to have clearly defined goals and a solid plan to achieve them. Those goals don't need to be clear to the reader/protagonist until later in the story, but the villain needs to be fully aware of what they are and be proactive in pursuit of them. The villain is usually the most proactive character in the story. There are so many better things that your villain can be than evil. Evil is boring. Smart can be dangerous. Compassionate can be soul wrenching. Consider a passionate character, doing what he/she believes is the in the best interest of everyone despite the cost. Thanos comes to mind here. We fully understand why the heroes need to stop him, but at the same time, we understand where Thanos is coming from and we even sympathize with him to a degree. GRRM is a master at twisting the reader's perception on characters. In the beginning, could Jamie Lannister be any more despicable? Yet there are times where he shows compassion and nobility. The same guy who pushed Bran from the tower is also the guy who jumped into the pit, one handed, to save Brienne from the bear. He's known as the Kingslayer and generally regarded as a man without honor, yet when Jaime tells the story to Brienne of how the Mad King meant to burn the entire city, you can't help but feel for him. There are so many characters who are at times both despicable and noble, treacherous and loyal. Even Ned Stark, for all his honor and nobility, deceived King Robert when he wrote "my rightful heir" instead of "my son Joffrey" in the decree that named Ned protector of the realm. And Kat, who fiercely loves her children, yet had no room in her heart for her husband's bastard. It's this type of stuff that makes the characters feel real, whether they are hero or villain, protagonist or antagonist. The lines are so blurred in many cases that the labels become meaningless. That is something I strive for, though maybe not to the degree that GRRM does it. My stories aren't usually that big. But if I can get the reader to sympathize with someone they hate, or be angry with someone they love, then I've done my job well.
  8. I think it's fine. I don't think of these structures when I'm writing either, or even when I'm planning. I plan out my stories and afterward, I may look at the plot structure in terms of 3-act or hero's journey or whatever, but the odds of me changing anything to fit any particular structure are slim. I tend to think of story on a more simplistic level: making promises to the reader and fulfilling those promises. Throw in some try fail cycles and some "yes,but/no,and" and I'm good. I'm reminded of a video where the creators of South Park talk about plot: Honestly, plotting doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.
  9. I think mine is plotting, so the author of that article wouldn't like me 🙂
  10. Drizzt Do'Urden has always been a favorite, not just because he's a badass (especially in Sojourn), but because of his idealism while growing up in such a morally corrupt world. Another favorite is Lord Mhoram, from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. His nobility, his willingness to sacrifice everything he loves rather than deny someone their right to choose, is what I love about him.
  11. Beginnings are the easiest for me. I have a lot more beginnings than endings, unfortunately. Good endings are hard to come up with, but once I have it, the middle is easier. I feel like the middle is where I have the most freedom, in some respects. The beginning has to do certain things and the end has to tie everything together, but the middle can include subplots that don't have to tie into either the beginning or the end. They just need to complicate life for the protagonists.
  12. You don't need it with every bit of dialogue though. There are many ways to eliminate them. Example: I've got a couple beats here (lines 1 and 5). I've got 1 dialogue tag (line 2). And the rest I don't have either, because they aren't necessary. I only use the beats to keep the reader grounded in the setting, so I don't have a talking heads thing. There's no confusion as to who is speaking, because there are only 2 people in the conversation. If I had more, I'd have to use more tags, but the same methods still work. When you have more than two people, you can also use direct address more, which helps. Example: The conversation starts off being between John and Mary, but then John addresses Mike by name in line 5, so I don't need a dialogue tag in line 6. We know it's Mike who is speaking. These are short samples and there isn't a ton of context, but do I really need dialogue tags to tell you what they are feeling? I'm showing how they feel by what they do and what they say.
  13. I use said, asked and replied. That's pretty much it. Maybe an added or confirmed once in a blue moon. Mostly it's said. It just feels more natural for me to end a question with "he asked" instead of "he said". 9 times out of 10, when writers feel like they are overusing something, it's a sign that they are doing something else wrong. In most cases, they end up fixing it the wrong way and making things worse. "Said" is one of those. If you think you are using it too often, odds are that you aren't using enough beats, or the writing it too dialogue heavy, or there are more people involved in the conversation than necessary. Just because there are a dozen people in the room doesn't mean that they all have to take turns speaking. Another one is pronouns. If you are using "I/he/she" too often, it means you aren't varying your sentences enough, and/or you are using too many filters. Instead of fixing the underlying cause, many writers will replace the pronouns with descriptions like "The blonde haired woman" or "The mechanic", which most of the time ends up being a break in POV. Said is not dead and you don't want to use a lot of alternatives to avoid repetition. The dialogue should speak for itself. If the dialogue, and the context in which it is spoken, don't convey the necessary meaning/tone, then that's what needs to be fixed. Adding a dialogue tag as a crutch for poor dialogue isn't the answer.
  14. If anyone hasn't watched Dan Wells youtube videos for his 7 point system, I highly recommend it:
  15. It's interesting, but I don't think it fits every story, and I can't ever see myself starting with the middle. If it's supposed to represent a moment of change for the protagonist, then I need to know what he/she is changing from, which would inevitably lead me to start with the beginning.
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