There are two essential components all great writers possess and unfortunately these are highly unnatural abilities. Most of us have to hone and refine and strengthen these skills because they are so counter to human nature. First, most humans run from conflict. Great writers go straight for it. Secondly, most humans really don’t pay attention […]
That’s the problem with craft books. Yeah, I’m going to blame it on the people trying to help me. I start reading their books, and blammo, I find something else that needs fixin’. This time, I’m going through the pre-planning plot structure and Miss 10 K (Rachel Aaron. I’m very impressed by her, actually) says, and I paraphrase, “consider whether a character is necessary for the story. If you remove a character, will the outcome be the same? Different? Are they necessary?”
STOP READING CRAFT BOOKS, you say. As if your screen can hear you. Harrumph. But the point is that what’s read can’t be unread, although I can certainly forget most of the important things by the next time I’m writing, which might be in fifteen minutes. In this case, I got to thinking, like you do. What are my characters? I have 9 marines, 3 navy guys, 4 cops, and a bunch of other people they run into. And sometimes herding the 12 people around from scene to scene is unwieldy.
The characters necessary for the story are the fireteam, which is only four of the marines. Those other guys… I might just do some revisions where they don’t make it past the crash. But that’s a substantial re-write, and all the subsequent scenes would need a lot of editing, and we’re lookin’ at hours of time. If I’m typing 1500 words per hour, that’s like 4500 words I won’t be typing while I dinker around with removing 3-5 characters with a little writer scalpel.
However, if you’re reading this magnificent thing in the future, and you notice guys dying off at about word 31900…
Let’s just say stuff happens. You gotta get rid of all these extras clogging the scenes, demanding arcs, demanding lines, cracking wisely, and hogging the limelight.
Do I cut, or run? Yes, yes, I hear you. Write the new stuff. Don’t cut anyone if you don’t have to. Enough with the revisions, already, get to work.
I’ve struggled for years now with plotting (that was 8 months ago. I’m still here). I’d rather do seat of the pants and avoid all the plotting. I think I’m like the lazy man from Proverbs, the one who says, and I paraphrase, “I can’t go anywhere. There might be a lion in the streets that will devour me.”
If I plot, I’ll be eaten by a lion. I like it. It’s as good an excuse as any.
So what do you do? I mean, not in a rhetorical way. What do you do to plot your book? What’s your routine, if any? Or are you with me, pointing to the lion outside and whispering, “I caaaaan’t. The lion will eat me!”
If You Typed 10,000 Words a Day, You’d finish a Book Every week. Just sayin.
Did you get it?IT’S A BUCK. GO SPEND A FREAKING DOLLAR ALREADY. DON’T BE CHEAP.
Okay, those of you who are sipping your Starbucks while saying “I can’t afford a 1 dollar ebook that might change EVERYTHING about how I write,” go to the back of the blog. GO TO THE BACK OF THE BLOG. Go on. You know who you are. The rest of you, give it a read. Go on.
See, I always think, “If I’m pumping out 5000 words an hour, I’ll be busier than a one-armed paper hanger!” Then I think, “What’s a paper hanger?” I know, contextually, it’s probably a guy who hangs wallpaper. You know, put on the glue with one hand, put on the paper with the other. But if you only have one hand…Boom. That’s busy.
Back to pantsing.
I tried to find some blog posts or books that tell you how to pants. I did. Crickets. Sorry guys, this isn’t defensible. HOWEVER! I did find a great post by Larry Correia. Trigger warning: Sometimes he uses strong language -and- he’s conservative, so if you don’t like having your views challenged, don’t read the following quote from Monsterhunternation.com:
“When Stephen King isn’t pontificating about political topics he’s fucking clueless about like gun control or government healthcare or anything vaguely related to the military, he’s one of the most successful authors ever. If I recall correctly he’s a pantser. He’s also one of the best damned wordsmiths who has ever lived. Nobody else strings evocative language together like he does, but personally I think his endings tend to fall flat. This is all a personal opinion so I’m sure I’m going to get jumped on by his fans, but when I read a King book it is like he gives us 700 pages of brilliance and then… eh… I’m bored. Guess I better wrap this thing up… Uh… Everybody dies. Aliens did it. The end.” Original Post here.
I share that quote with you because Mr. King is held up as the epitome of all authors. He even wrote a book about writing books. Oh! That’s my point. Stev-o says in his book how to pants. So do exactly what he does, and you too can be churning out bestsellers.
Pshaw, Matt, you say. That trick never works. If it did, there’d be thousands of Stephen King clones all moving to Maine, saying “Boooooks… boooooooooks.” Stay away from the clowns up there, kids. That’s a piece of advice you can take to the bank.
What are your word counts, oh you pantsers? Please reply with your words per hour, with explanation if necessary of factors that affect your numbers such as a strangely too affectionate bond with your small ratter dog, or children, or you contracted a loathsome physical disease which causes people to cry out when they see you, “Unclean!”
And you plotters: How much time do you spend plotting? How good is your WPH? Please post that here, as well, with explanations about dogs, children, loathsome disease, etc. Let’s compare and contrast.
But… plot twists! And stuff. Tonight, you guys, tonight we write. Or right. Or homophone. Something. Someone bring the Strongbow and artichoke dip, I’m going to be blazing on word count. 3000 words tonight! Let’s go.
You ever watch an old movie? Not like black-and-white, pre-talkies era, but forties or fifties-era flick. You know, color, but early color, surprisingly regular inclination to break into song and dance? It was a thing. Anyway, if you’ve ever sat down and watched one of these older flicks with friends, family, or even on your […]
Leanne Rimes was the opener, and Billy Currington the headliner. The venue: LA County fair, in the former racing stands.
The thing of it was, Billy’s set had fantastic sound. Leann’s set? Not so much. Now, Leann has fantastic vocals, and the band was spot on, but everything she spoke was muddy. Not because Leann is a muddy speaker, but rather, somewhere between the microphone and the PA something happened that made it really hard to understand her. Her vocals during the songs were spot on, and sounded clear and great.
Yet, for some strange reason, Billy was clear as day!
Also: The lighting was very muted for Leann, and Billy’s set was quite bright and had lots of interesting spots and so much smoke, there was a pall over Pomona from it.
I get that openers are just that – openers. Yet, this is a professional venue and even though I had super-freebie tix (I had to pay to get in the fair, though) and we were in the top row of the furtherest section (there were a lot of nosebleeds), I was disappointed in how the opening act sounded. I know professional sound guys wouldn’t sabotage an early act, but how else to explain that the professionals couldn’t give the lady good spoken sound?
Remember, just because something is a conspiracy theory does not mean that it isn’t true.
My 8 year old says to me during Leann’s set: “Dad? Is she hot?”
Well, son, this is a consequence of public school. They’re ruining you.
“Yes, I’d say. But it’s not right for an 8 year old to call a woman ‘hot,’ so you can say she’s pretty or good-looking,” was what I really said.
“Is she married?”
“She’s a bit too old for you, mister.”
“If she weren’t married, it’d be perfect,” he said.
I think he was implying that a singer’s attractiveness and marriage status was something that influenced their fandom. Maybe. At least the kid has good taste! There’s hope there somewhere.
So, um. You. Reader. I don’t like the color of your house.
There. Now we’re in conflict. Go ahead. Respond in the comments, or this’ll be one-sided.
But… now we have to decide: Am I the antagonist, or am I the protagonist? We certainly know, most of the time, that we ourselves are the protagonist, of course, but what if you’re really the antagonist and you just don’t know it?
If you’re defeated after the climax of the story, you were probably the antagonist. Unless, of course, it’s a false climax and you’re headed for a new bigger climax where you win big. Then you were the protagonist all along.
If you don’t know when the climax happened in the story, you’re probably still headed toward it. Climaxes are always climaxy.
What if you’re just the B story, and you’re going to help someone else at the end, so you’re really only there for parts 20-30% of the book/movie? Just a bit character who will save the hero at the end after the darkest hour?
Also, did you arc? Even villains should arc.
You do know how to arc, right? I strongly suspect that most of the broken people I know never arced, which explains a lot. If you would just arc, you’ll finish your book, you writers. The lie that writers believe: Writer’s block. The arc: Overcoming it to publish a critically acclaimed best seller and have Steve King texting you for tips on his next novel. Climax: Beta readers all are bitten to become zombies, you get no feedback, and at the last moment an editor you met through a blog comes through and developmentally fixes your messy manuscript.
Don’t worry about the zombie apocalypse thing. You managed to get your book published, even if civilization is in the toilet. The End.