it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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"We love best selling writers for their sentimental inexactitude." -- Norman Mailer

One of the nice things about being a bad guitar player is that when you screw up, you often find a chord Pete Townshend uses for something.

I've decided that today is a day for drinking chamomile tea and not going outside. Also, a big chunk of plot dropped into my head this morning, but I was having restless fits and couldn't concentrate to write, so, ah, I played a lot of Dinomite and then played guitar for an hour or so. Slowly but surely, I am transitioning from "Somebody who owns a guitar" to "The world's most feeble guitar player."

It makes me feel accomplished. (I'm trying to learn Bflat now. It doesn't seem like it should be that hard, but it really kicks my butt.)

Carnival reviewed at Sequential Tart! Hah, found it. *sack dances.*

All right. I'm going to play some more mindless computer games and figure out what the next scene is, because unfortunately the big chunk of book that my brain gave is macro level rather than micro level.

I should explain that, shouldn't I?

Okay. When I write something, I am thinking about it on ~6 levels. There is the big-picture narrative level, what I call "the story." This is the stuff that goes in the synopsis, or the stuff you list when somebody says "Well, what's your book about?" Then there is the actual scene by scene progression of action, the "plot." This is the questions raised and answered along the way. Forward motion. Tension. That.

Then there is the thematic level--the "argument." This is the thing your 9th grade English teacher asked you essay questions about.

Then there is the "work," which is what the scene accomplishes in terms of the structure of the book. In other words, "This is the scene that introduces character X to character Y, and establishes their relationship." "This is the scene in which Character Z's minor triumph becomes a major setback."

That's four, right?

Five is the character arc--what each scene does in terms of illuminating who the characters are and how they are growing or failing to grow.

Six is the Cool Shit. This is for worldbuilding or throwing in shiny setpieces just because you happen to think of the shiny setpiece. OTOH, once you think of the shiny setpiece, it needs to start doing some of the other five things, too, or soon you have a bloated and repetitious series of volumes about which your readers cry "Seven hundred pages and nothing happened!"

And if you can get a scene doing five or six things?

That's narrative momentum, baby, as long as the prose is up to it.

Is this how you should work? I dunno, Probably not. But it works for me.

Anyway, right now I have the first thing and the third thing, for the rest of the book. And bits and pieces of the other four.

Unfortunately, I need more bits and pieces of NEXT scene, so I can write it. (The worst is when I know the work a scene should be doing, and can't figure out any of the other things that could cause that work to happen. Hate that. Hate it.)
Tags: jacob's ladder, reviews, stupid flash games for catwaxing, three chords and grimace musically, writing craft wank
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