Showing posts from July, 2017

Generating Ideas for Writing - The Gold Rush Phenomenon

Good story ideas come to me all of the time now, just while I'm encountering things throughout the day. My uncle John also sent me an idea that is very versatile, almost begging for expansion, and I keep going back and thinking about it. Returning to an idea is the definition of fascinating, and that is a good lead to follow. The idea concerns a modern gold rush. It is currently possible, in our world, the real world, to turn lead into gold. It just happens to cost more than the gold is worth to do it. What if it became economically viable? What if someone had this secret and didn't release it, they just made gold for themselves? That reminds me a little bit of "Prison Break" with all of the amazing technology that people are willing to do anything to control. "Prison Break" was an amazing show, too bad it continually got more melodramatic with everyone coming back from the dead, and the entire world revolving around one family. Anyway, you can see th

Searching for the Key to Plotting

Plots are really just a series of problems and solutions. Almost no one seems to talk about them like that, and neither do I, but I am not sure why. A problem is the difference between the current state of affairs and a desired state of affairs. The solution eliminates this differential, but an easy solution would be a boring story. I think stacking problems and solutions on top of each other would be a good way to build a story. Most of the time the solution creates a bigger problem until the climax, which is the biggest problem so far. Thinking about it in this way reminds me of Dan Brown's stories, and I don't particularly care for something about them, maybe the pacing. There are situationist writers. I just made-up that term to describe someone that starts with a situation and starts writing from there, seeing what happens as they go. Stephen King does that a lot. It seems like a fun discovery process. Another good way, I hear, of coming up with stories is t

Drowning in Theory, Starving for Application

Learning the art/skill/craft of writing can be a daunting process. It is easy to get lost in the study and forget about the application. Theory does have value, as long as it is tempered with application. With my immersion into the study of writing I have found some great resources for learning that I am going to share with you here and now. There have been five courses that I really liked. Many of the more academic courses that are supposed to be about writing seem more about trying to guess, or simply invent, the theme of an old, popular book. These courses are not like that. Four of the courses are from I think they have done an excellent job of letting these writers show you their process and thinking patterns. The first one I took was from James Patterson. I wanted to see how the best selling author in the world does it. I found his process to be very interesting. He writes these extensive outlines, sometimes up to 50 pages, then has a co-author fle

Plotting Advice from Orson Scott Card

How do we know when a story is done? It seems, mostly, like a feeling. If your movie cuts out a little early your response would probably be, "That didn't seem quite right, I don't think that is where it ends." This happened to my mother a few days ago and that was her reaction. Orson Scott Card talks about how we can tell when a story should end by what it focuses on. That idea is what I am going to play with today. Orson Scott Card is a successful author most known for "Enders Game." His two books on writing, "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" and "Characters and Viewpoint," are both excellent. In them he talks about something called the MICE Quotient. MICE stands for milieu, idea, character, and event. Milieu just means all of the setting/context, I looked it up. I will let Card quickly explain the basic structures of each. "The structure of the pure milieu story is simple: Get a character to the setting that

The Flavor of Words and Disagreeing with Dean Koontz

I didn't like sushi the first seven times that I tried it, but now I love it. At no time was I wrong about sushi; when I didn't like it I was right, and when I loved it I was right. Flavors are individual, subjective; as in food, so in the written word. Dean Koontz has been a very successful author for a very long time across many genres. Some of the best writing advice I have encountered so far is contained in his 1972 book "Writing Popular Fiction," but today we are going to talk about the part where I disagree. I like so much of what Koontz says in the book that I was surprised by two style examples that he gives. Here is the entire section 5 of chapter 9. Your style will evolve naturally as you continue to write, and you should not make much of a conscious effort to develop it. Of course, every writer should strive to create clear and dramatic prose, but if you are trying to write beautiful prose full of catchy similes and metaphors and other figure

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