While this article is about script writing, the basics still apply to novels. In particular, no risk = no emotional stakes.
Go and check out the whole thing on John Rogers blog. Link http://kfmonkey.blogspot.co.nz/2005/12/writing-action-scenes.html
There comes a time in every writer’s life when they sit back and think “get a damned book published already”. For me, that time is now.
Given that it has never been easier to self-publish, that traditional publishing is more likely to smile favourably on someone with a bit of a following, it really is an ideal time. Chicken or the egg, do you start with what you think is a polished gem, praying to your deity of choice that a traditional publisher will pick it up? Do you do it all yourself, get to know the business of publishing as well as the art of writing, and polish as you build your world (and hopefully fan-base).
First things first though, write the damn book. That’s where NaNo comes in. Sit down for a month, give yourself permission to spew forth literary garbage onto the page and write. You’ve only got to write 50,000 words, that half a book before editing out the contradictions and adverbs. Don’t edit, that’s not what nano is for, just write. When you’re done you’ll be halfway there, half of the raw clay you can come back and shape into your masterpiece. Then take a break, work on something else, before coming back to write the other half. Then, and only then, do we edit.
Time-out reading material (in an unrelated genre)? Check!
Supply of Chocolate and/or pastry? Check!
100,000 words should make a light and lean 75,000 to 80,000-word book once you’ve done five or so editing passes across it. Not a bad size for an Urban Fantasy / Modern Fantasy work.
We’ll get to editing later; as long as I’m not sitting in a corner sobbing, looking at my empty screen and eating these words.
UPDATE: I need to eat these words.
1 In the beginning, the writer cleared the workspace.
2 And the story was without form, and vague; no words were upon the screen of the computer. And despair moved within the mind of the writer.
3 And the Writer said, Let there be a document: and there was a document.
4 And the writer saw the document, that it was blank: and the writer selected a font from the menu.
5 And the writer called the Font Times New Roman, and the document he called Draft 1. And the document with the standard font was saved, and this was the first day.
6 And the Writer said, Let there be a structure in the midst of the story, and let it divide the story into acts.
7 And the Writer made the structure and divided the story that was before the turning point from the story that was after the turning point: and it was so.
8 And the Writer called the document Draft & Structure. And the document with high-level structure was saved, and this was the second day.
9 And the Writer said, Let the first half be divided into beginning and middle, gathered together unto one arc, and let the stakes appear: and it was so.
10 And the Writer called the story-arcs plot; the gathering together of the structure called the acts: and the Inner Critic saw that it was coherent.
11 And the Writer said, Let the structure bring forth Situation, the set-up yield complication, and the middle yielding crisis after his idea, whose seed is in conflict, upon the story: and it was so.
12 And the structure brought forth Situation, and set-up yielding complication after his kind, and the middle yielding crisis, whose idea was in conflict, after his kind: and the Writer saw that it was not totally dreadful.
13 And the document was saved with a word count of 500, and this was the third day.
14 And the Writer said, Let there be a world in the story to divide it from the works of others; and let it contain cities, and characters, and locations and scenes:
15 And let them be for consistency in the story to give depth to the idea: and it was so.
16 And the Writer made two great characters; the greater character to be the protagonist, and the lesser character to oppose them: he made a supporting cast also.
17 And the Writer set them in the conflict of the story to give form to the idea,
18 And to rule over the story, and for the reader to identify with: and the Writer saw that it had potential.
19 And the document with its characters was saved, and that was the fourth day.
20 And the Writer said, Let the characters bring forth personality quirks and mannerisms that give them life, and the conflict may be fought in tavern or street, and with weapons and words.
21 And the Writer created great scenes, and every piece of dialogue that was spoken, which gave the scenes realism, after their kind, and every twist and surprise: and the Writer saw that it was good.
22 And the Writer cursed them, saying, I see grammar errors, and typos, and whole scenes that no longer fit, and I may have to re-write the beginning entirely.
23 And with much weeping, the computer was abandoned for the fifth day.
24 And the Writer said, I have a thesaurus and a writing guide, coffee, and chocolate, and time away from my day job: and it was so.
25 And the Writer made changes to his plot, and chapters after their kind, and every typo and grammatical error: and the Writer saw that it was better.
26 And the Writer said, Let us make the protagonist in our image, after our own self: and let them have victory over the villain of the story, and over the minor obstacles of the beginning, and over the crisis, and overall the conflict, and over every challenge that fills the story.
28 And the Writer cursed and said unto himself, There is no depth, and no surprise, and knew he would have to re-write his characters: and give them setbacks, and places where they failed, and a terrible defeat before the final victory otherwise the triumph would be meaningless.
29 And the Writer said, Behold, I have crafted a true story, which is filled with three-dimensional characters, and a good pacing, and an interesting world for all this to occur; to you, it shall be a good read.
30 And to every person on his friend list, and to every writing peer on the forums, and to everyone that had mentioned in passing that they liked this type of story, a message was sent, and this message was that the story had been finished: but it was not so.
31 And the Writer knew everything that he had made, and, behold, it needed a second draft. And the Beta Reader and the Editor were contacted on the sixth day.
(Might be vaguely familiar )
Also launched at Medium because I’m a sucker for new platforms
1. Describe a party from the point of view of a soldier on leave from a war zone. Don’t mention the war or the fact he is a soldier.
She had only recently returned to the tedium of suburban life, and the invitations to social events were already becoming a burden. These housewives with their shiny cars and sticky children, their petty feuds and narrow worldview chipping away at her forced calm. “Obligation, it is the price of acceptance”, she muttered to herself in the corner, desperately clutching a Vodka and Orange that is more vodka than orange.
A loud bang sends her pulse racing, senses suddenly on alert. But the call of ‘Taxi’ comes in from the patio, along with forced socially acceptable laughter. It’s an old joke, from a culture she no longer understands, loud sudden noises should evoke fear, not tired chuckles. She wants to shake these people, rub their faces in fleeting nature of their existence, but that isn’t what a good guest does.
Around her the social tango spins on, its a tune she can remember but no longer understands, the rhythm jars, each note seems false. She wants to scream at them, open their eyes to the real world around them and pull them out of the shared domestic fantasy they are lost in. Instead she takes another gulp of the bitter juice, finding to her surprise that the glass has emptied itself again.
Between her and the kitchen, lies the gauntlet of the young single community men. Young, smug little shits with their tennis shoes and know-it-all attitudes. Worse still are the divorcees mingled amongst them, privileged suburbanites with BMW’s and wandering hands. They are here for her, invited so that they can assess the single woman who has foolishly entered their hunting grounds. She gathers the tattered remains of her courage and moves forward, forcing a smile, knowing that they won’t notice that it doesn’t reaches her eyes. Beyond them lies the drinks cabinet and the blessed vodka that makes these gatherings bearable
2. Describe the same party from the point of view of a child. Don’t mention the child.
This was supposed to be a party, but it didn’t feel like a party. Lots of people standing around talking about things that make no sense, big words and long pauses while others nod agreement. Sometimes people would move from one group to another, sometimes a whole group would collapse and the people in it would reform in another place. It was like watching bubbles in a sink, the groups moving, bursting, reforming.
There was music too. Old, slow stuff that he had heard before but didn’t recognise. It was playing quietly and no one was dancing, so he wasn’t sure why it was on. Sometimes someone would turn the music up for a song but someone else would turn it right back down again because it made it harder to argue about ‘politics’, and ‘batting averages’.
There was cake earlier, full of cream and strawberries. It was left in the middle of the big table so that you could come back and have as many pieces as you want. That had been the best bit of the whole thing. Far better than having to wade through strangers smelling of smoke and dead flowers.
In the back of the biggest room, in a corner between the door and the indoor plant, there was a sad looking lady. She didn’t join the groups, she just smiled at people and occasionally went into the kitchen and back. One time she left her seat and he switched his empty glass with her full one, but it tasted like the juice had gone off, so he poured it out on the plant.
Take an image, describe it through different genre filters
As a spoof.
A pimple of a mountain, an acne scar on the face of Gaia, that’s what this place is. People take one look at this place and head to more civilised areas, bemoaning their traitorous tourist guides. They leave behind only their dust, while the moon looks down myopically at the tiny people, a judgemental eye in a gaudy blue face.
In a romance.
Away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Away from the noises, and distractions, and failed relationships. This place would be an escape, a return to simplicity, if only for a few days. Just the two of them, alone together under an endless sky and a shy moon. The warmth of the rocks, pure in their ochre tones, was a warm welcome. In this ancient place, maybe something new could be awoken.
A suspense story.
It sits a hundred miles from anywhere, its secrets hidden from the world by virtue of sheer isolation. Somewhere in a deep crevice, guarded by the sheer approach and broken terrain, a world-changing discovery waits. The mountain is patient though, it has waited since before mankind began to record its words. For now, it sleeps under a blue sky until it can reveal itself and change history as we know it.
Harsh stone, broken only by the occasional appearance of a stunted tree struggling to survive. There was no easy path and no sanctuary from the scorching sun. This was an unforgiving land, a stranger to both rain and hope. Here mercy was a quick fall and slow lingering death as the sun claimed its sacrifice. Bleached bones giving mute testament to how often that mercy was granted.