Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 30-May 6, 2017

Pleased as punch to present your informal writerly learnings for the week … and a little too fond of alliteration 😀

K.M. Weiland continues her most common writing mistakes series with part 59: overly complex plots. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate helps you write in an authentic historical voice.

Jess Lourey guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog: pantser or plotter—deciding which can save your writing life.

Then, Anne Carley guest posts: going public by design. Are you clear on your writer persona?

Orly Konig Lopez: how to handle accolades. Writers in the Storm

Fae Rowan shares eight easy ways your characters can show love. Writers in the Storm

Julie Glover teaches you to embrace your authentic writing voice. Writers in the Storm

Greer Mcallister says, yes, your novel has a message. Writer Unboxed

Sonja Yoerg rattles the cup for blurbs. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass writes of spells, palls, and poisoned apples (and what they mean to your characters). Writer Unboxed

Anna Elliot: bad writing habits and how to break them. Writer Unboxed

Writing coach Michael Hauge returns to Writers Helping Writers: if you want to grow as a writer, transform your critique group.

Janice Hardy shows you six ways to identify a contrived plot. Fiction University

Following up on her post about experimenting with minimalism, Bess Cozby offers three tips for trying it out yourself. DIY MFA

G. Myrthil shares eight reasons adults read young adult novels. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Katherine Neville for DIY MFA radio.

A rant about men who write women as sexual objects. Hilarious. And sad, because it’s true 😦 But alas! The creature grows degenerate.

Sarah Gailey: American history is a work of fiction. Tor.com

Helena Kelly exposes the many ways in which we are wrong about Jane Austen. Literary Hub

Sarah Lyall is home alone with the ghost of Emily Dickenson. The New York Times

General Leia Organa is the hero we need now. Anne Theriault for The Establishment.

David Emery shares the real deal on Peter S. Beagle’s ongoing legal battle. Snopes

Gail Harding reports that Diana Gabaldon may include PEI in a future Outlander novel. CBC

Because Twin Peaks is coming back:

 

Dan Auty takes a look at the new Twin Peaks trailer. Gamespot

Emily Asher-Perrin reviews episode 2 of Doctor Who: “Thin Ice” is the best Doctor Who episode in years. Tor.com

Vince Mancini praises Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2. UPROXX

The Dark Tower trailer 🙂

 

Then, Katharine Trendacosta unpacks all the secrets in the trailer for i09.

Aaaaand—The Defenders trailer. Netflix

 

Wowsers! I hope something in this mix gave you the tools you needed to take your craft to the next level, or at least the next version. Writer 1.1, anyone? I have to admit, some days it feels like writer 0.1 for me 😛

Be well until thoughty Thursday arrives to pop your mental corn (A.K.A. inspire you) 🙂

tipsday2016

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Brian Henry workshop, Sudbury, March 22, 2014

Brian HenryThis afternoon, I attended my fifth Brian Henry workshop.

This one, the third held in Sudbury and hosted by the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, was on “How to make your stories dramatic.”

These workshops are Brian’s bread and butter, so without giving too much of the content away, here are my notes:

  • The scene is the basic building block of your story.
  • There are two kinds: the dialogue-based scene, and the action-based scene.
  • Every scene must have a plot-related point. It must answer the question, “so what?”
  • Push and pull. The push is the point of view (POV) character’s need. The pull is what the pursuit of the need leads to (promise, twist, decision, new threat, etc.).
  • Your characters must be interesting. They should be unique, have their own interests, passions, a quirk, backstory (dole it out gradually). If two characters are similar, shoot one.
  • Readers, sadly, do not remember names.
  • Your protagonist should be a good “tour guide.”
  • Every character has her or his own agenda (the scene’s push). It’s better if they are at odds with one another.
  • Pick your scenes carefully. Show the important stuff. Tell the rest.
  • Don’t get to the point too quickly.
  • Scene = hook, hook, and hook.
  • Ford Madox Ford, “No speech of a character should reply directly to another character.”
  • Dialogue shouldn’t be smooth.
  • An action scene consists of set up, action, and wind down.
  • Set up = setting, background, tone, suspense.
  • Action = plot, character, relationships.
  • Wind down = the result, new information, what is gained or lost.
  • Dialogue is important, even in action scenes.
  • Make sure it feels exotic (most people don’t spend a lot of time fighting, in chase scenes, etc.)
  • Use internal monologue to your scene’s best advantage. No long-winded explanations.
  • You need to have some kind of surprise.
  • Have more than one thing going on at any one time.

We went through a few examples of dramatic scenes, one from Lawrence Block, one from George R. R. Martin, and one from Bernard Cornwell to look at the variations and interplay of action and dialogue. We also completed a writing exercise, for which I chose a scene (to that point unwritten) from Gerod and the Lions.

Since I’m always trying to learn and improve upon my craft, the workshop brought up a number of bits and pieces that I’ve learned over the years.

Emily Dickenson wrote, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

Last fall at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I attended a Diana Gabaldon session where she shared her technique of driving a scene forward by raising questions in the reader, but delaying the answers for as long as possible.

I just finished reading Victoria A. Mixon’s The Art and Craft of Story, in which she describes “holographic structure.” This takes the basic three act structure of hook, development, and climax and breaks it down.

The hook consists of the hook and the first conflict, the development includes (at least) two more conflicts, and the climax consists of the faux resolution and climax.

In fact, breaking it down even further, each of these six elements contains its own six elements.

Thus, the hook part of the hook section contains its own hook, (at least) three conflicts, faux resolution, and climax, as does each of the remaining parts.

If this seems confusing, please read Victoria’s book. She explains it at much more length and much more clearly than I do.

Suffice it to say that the ultimate breakdown is at the scene level, and each scene, in keeping with its overall purpose within the story, has its own hook, three conflicts, faux resolution, and climax.

That’s all the insightful I have for you today, my writerly peeps.

Until next time.