A Writer’s Eyes

You may remember the moment. Plots became more obvious to you. Books, movies, and TV shows had to be among the best to impress you, because mediocre wasn’t cutting it anymore. You had writer’s eyes, and story became fairly obvious to you.

At first I didn’t like being able to figure things out. I wanted to be surprised by the stories I consumed in whatever format I consumed them in. And occasionally I still am, but for the most part it takes a pretty good story to get me impressed. There truly is nothing new under the sun, but I continue searching for those really good stories that make the consumption worthwhile.

Has that happened for you? Are you able to predict the plots of stories because that’s your business? That’s just how your brain works? You’ve spent a lot of time making those plot connections yourself, so most plots of most stories won’t really surprise you.

That’s often how I feel about movies today. Oh, we’re spending a lot of time on this minor character, he must be important later. Hmm, seems like this girl’s only purpose is to get the plot going. Things like that.

Granted, there are a few movies/books/shows that do take me by surprise and tantalize my brain, but that’s generally more the exception than the rule.

And then there are those stories that I know exactly what’s going to happen and yet somehow they still pull me in. (See Korean dramas.) I always try and explore the essence of those stories and figure out what it is that keeps me hooked and how can I harness that draw in my own writing.

Although becoming a writer and understanding story has “ruined” some experiences for me, it’s enlightened me in other ways. I try not to waste my time on mediocrity. Although I have found on occasion the abysmal story can be instructive in its own way.

But I want to hear from you. Do you now have writer’s eyes? Has it ruined certain stories for you, or do you feel it has enhanced your experience? Is it difficult for you to find really impressive stories or do you find value in even the abysmal? Let me know what you think below.

So You Need to Synopsis

Not nearly as terrifying as the live pitch, nor as frustrating as the query letter is the dreaded synopsis. I say dreaded because it feels like you’re taking delicious farm fresh veggies and freeze-drying them, later to be consumed by someone else who won’t get the farm fresh taste your whole novel has.

via luvimages.com

Plus even though you get a few pages instead of page (a la query) you still must condense all that info into a nice freeze dried package AND still make it appealing.

Look! Just as…appealing… (via hikingcookbook.co.uk)

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Valuable Scenes

Several months ago on a blog just around the corner, Alex and I were discussing writing as we usually do, and she mentioned—nay requested—a post on value shifting in scenes because I hit that up every other second when it comes to feedback.

So, my people, I give you my own personal interpretation of Robert McKee’s value shifts. And hopefully this will give you enough reason to go buy this book already and hold it fast like the writing bible it is!

WHAT DO YOU MEAN VALUE?

It doesn’t mean morals, if that’s what you’re thinking, although it could be related to a moral. This is part of the real guts of the scene. Think of it as what the character values most in that moment. It might be freedom, In some cases it will be the stakes of the story. Often it will be just the stakes of that scene.

How does Mr. McKee define it?

Story Values are the universal qualities of human experience that may shift from positive to negative, or negative to positive, from one moment to the next.

I often think of it as the goal of that moment for the character or perhaps something that will create a goal. Take, for example, Ghostbusters. The big goal of the characters is saving New York from utter destruction from a Mesopotamian god (NEGATIVE).

It just popped in there.

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Jae vs. Car Troubles

Okay, I promise, after this post I’ll stop talking about the crazy last few weeks I’ve had, what with Scammy Scammerton and the flu and moving. But let’s not forget that often troubles and adventures go hand in hand. So maybe we should call this:

Jae and the Incredible Car Adventure!

I’ve owned my current car, Azul, for 5 years and despite its 12 years of age, it’s been a good friend to me and hasn’t asked for much. Mostly I followed the recommended replacements and kept it frequent on oil changes and tire rotations.

And then one day out of nowhere, with no warning or previous indication of problem Azul decides to play dead.

jaeazul01

My first thoughts are battery. After all, I have one of those fabulous cars that if you leave the keys in the ignition AFTER the car has been turned off the radio will stay running all night long. I’m sure the engineers thought this would be a convenience, especially at the drive-in movie theater. I mean in 2001 EVERYONE was going to the drive-in theater. Right? Right? That’s the location of one of my favorite and somewhat terrifying episodes of Psych.

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LUW Conference – Notes Part 5

Welcome to PART 2 of the Maxwell Alexander Drake panel notes. We continue on with what makes a hero and twelve steps you should consider when writing your story (especially if it’s an adventure-type story).

“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” -Shakespeare

Why share this quote? Sometimes we’re afraid to let our heroes be heroes. Don’t hold your heroes back. Let the characters do what they’re going to do. Let your heroes be super heroic, villains super villainous.

WHAT MAKES A HERO?

  • A hero needs to be relatable.
  • A hero needs something that sets them apart.
  • A hero should not be perfect.
  • A hero should be a Doer – they accept the call.
  • A hero tends to live life on a razor’s edge.
  • A hero is willing to risk their life for others.
  • A hero should be willing to make sacrifices.
  • A Hero must always GROW and CHANGE.

WHAT MAKES A VILLAIN?

  • A villain is normally established.
  • A villain needs to be relatable.
  • A villain needs something that sets them apart.
  • A villain should not be perfect.
  • A villain should be a Doer – they accept the call.
  • *A villain wants to succeed*
  • A villain tends to live life on a razor’s edge.

Do heroes and villains sound similar. There’s only one difference between them: you, the author. If you want to write a great villain, write them as if they were your hero. Because… There is no such thing as a “villain.” A villain believes they are the hero of their own story. They may take more extremes than the hero, but give them goals and motivations like you would your hero. Write them so they want to win and defeat the hero.

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