Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Writing Conversation Part 5

4.      I’d suggest that you write about something you are extremely familiar with, maybe scouts or military, and keep it in the present day. Make up and develop a couple of interesting characters, come up with a plot twist that takes the reader in a direction they didn’t expect. If you get something good going, then maybe modify it into the future or into a alien world (Boy Scout camping trip in the future to an unexplored planet?). Or add the horror twist. Or both. Also telling the story non-linear might be a good gimmick (the movie “Pulp Fiction” or “Reservoir Dogs” style), an outline help’s this style to work. I think you’ll really need a twist or gimmick…

What is interesting here are three points:
  1. Write what you know
  2.  Write common place things and then develop them into uncommon things
  3. Have a twist or gimmick.
 Write what you know is an well known adage in writing.  In Fantasy, SF and Horror is write what you know or write what you know no one knows.  In other words you can write speculative fiction if you write about things that MIGHT be true and about things that ARE true.  You can't write about things that CANNOT be true (or at least not about too many things that cannot be true).

What is important is to not limit yourself to only what you have personal experience in.  Case in point is Tom Clancy.  When he wrote Hunt for Red October he was a truck driver.  He had never been in the CIA or Navy and had never even set foot on a sub.  What he did was read and research.  I've heard that he researched so well that the CIA did approach him to ask how he got all that information.  It turns out that it was all on the web. 

The second point is just wrong thinking.  I'm sorry to be so blunt, but it is.  There are reasons I write in a particular genre.  I choose a genre not just because it seems cool, but because of the story I want to tell.  For instance, I wanted to explore the idea that sports really don't affect our lives as much as we think, but what if they did?

I took that idea and created a world and an intelligent alien that could only reproduce under certain sport related conditions.  I suppose I could have made it a fantasy story as well, but I was thinking about the REAL impact and therefore I didn't want to introduce any elements of magic.

The last point is wrong too.  Gimmick writing is old fashioned and most submission requirements warn against it's use.  Twist endings and gimmicky writing is just not marketable (Pulp Fiction not withstanding, but of course now that's been done and over done too). 

The thing that stories must have is a HOOK.  Stories must be able to grab you and pull you in.  This is different from a gimmick .  Stories should also be original or have an original twist on an old story.  This is different from a twist ending.

Star Wars is a very old story, but it certainly had a new twist on it. 

Bottom line, at least for me is, these are certainly all things to think about and to learn about.  I have, I know the rules and the standard modern forms.  The trick is to know how and when to break the rules.

Also, it is very good to go back and look at the rules you think you know, refresh them in your memory, relearn why they are rules and recommit yourself to them.

For that I thank you very much.

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