Friday, April 28, 2006

Free advice...



You know what they say about it, right? It's usually only worth what ya paid for it.

Usually.

Not this time...

I managed to stumble across this by reading Max Adams' blog comments and clicking on the link for a commenter there. I like how this woman (Toni McGee Causey)writes so I read further down the page, even though she's a novelist, and I'm generally zeroed in on the screenwriting stuff. But-- being a writer, I read anything, anywhere, at any time of day or night... so I read all of her blog entrys until THIS one stopped me in my tracks. Stopped me cold. Totally blew me away. In fact, I'm in orbit around Neptune's new planet right now.

The topic? Getting your work sold. Not read. Sold.

Get more than two cents; here.

7 Comments:

At 6:19 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger ~Dev said...

Thanks for sharing! It looks like a great post (I'll read it later, over lunch).

Best Regards,
~Devin

 
At 10:17 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger writergurl said...

Since I've had to turn on the No Pest Strip controls, Alexandra Wolfe found herself unable to comment, not being a current member of Blogger, so she emailed me her comments in re this post.



"To distill down the lady's rambling pros, I suspect her books weren't working becuase a lack of conflict (although not having read anything I cannot say for certain). But that is usually what's missing in a good read to make it a seller. Characters need to have conflict and jeopardy, problems to face and solve and resolve. One of the masters of storytelling (comics/scripts/novels) certainly in my books, is J. Michael Straczynski gave me some of the best advice I've ever had."

To quote myself:

Physical Constraints:
The characters must strive to achieve something, or to avoid something. Obstacles and sabotaging your character helps bring them to life; you have to determine what your character wants and, how far she’ll go to achieve it. And just as importantly how far someone else will go in trying to stop them.

Conflict, Emotion & Desires:
You don’t just tell a story, you must also drive the story. For it to succeed nothing drives a story better than conflict and emotion. A chapter should be made up of a number of things. So to make them work, just like the novel as a whole, they should have a beginning, a middle and, that all important end. Move the driving forces of your chapter as you would the driving forces of your whole novel. Think, plan, prepare. Then execute. Move one chapter into another leaving the reader hungry for more.

Other things to think about:

* Always ask yourself questions as to where something/someone is going to see if everything follows through.
* Think story development as well as character development.
* Keep your lead characters active and interesting.
* Don’t make all your characters sound the same - try and diversify! (See: Character Development)
* Details are always important.
* Avoid false jeopardy, contrivance and convenience.
* If you get your character into difficulty you must also give her the means to get out of it.
* Try and give each chapter a focus and or action, even if it’s downbeat.
* Provide your story with moments of emotion and or revelation, especially for the main character - readers want someone they can identify with.


Just some basics. Of course, this advice also equates to screenplays.


Thank you Alexandra! Lots of wisdom there!

 
At 1:50 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger deepstructure said...

this seems to be the age old discussion of character versus plot. as soon as i started reading her entry i thought "oh, she didn't have a plot."

to me, plot is the very definition of "i couldn't stop reading." you don't say that because you must know what the next funny thing a character is going say is, or who the next colorful personality that shows up will be; you say that because you want to know what happens next. that's plot.

im a super-fan of plot. i have the opposite problem with my scripts. people love how the story keeps moving, but they often don't feel they know (or care) who the characters are. guess we all have our cross to bear. :)

 
At 2:22 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger writergurl said...

While I agreee that structure is needed, I'm not going to be passionate about a by-the numbers peice, I will on the other hand be passionate about PEOPLE. Of course, there's always the people who just piss me off cause they do nothing but ramble...

;)

 
At 3:27 AM, April 30, 2006, Blogger Lucy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:28 AM, April 30, 2006, Blogger Lucy said...

Character for me goes beyond plot, every time.

Movies are quite plot-simple (or should be in my view) - hence the loglines and how straightforward all the best ones are; some books have no plot to speak of at all. What makes these work are the motivations and desires of the people WITHIN them. As WG says, one needs to be passionate about people. This is how you can get a reader coming back to you with positive feedback for your script, even when they're not sure what it's about!

 
At 12:49 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Toni McGee Causey said...

Writergurl, thanks so much for the compliment. Much appreciated.

I don't want to seem argumentative with the posters above, but the issue really was not plot. I had plot out the wazoo. ;) However, if a writer (moi) is not careful and showing motivations clearly, then even what could have been an edgy, fast-paced plot can be rendered a little murky to the reader. Stuff could be happening, and without clear connection to the protagonist and clear motivations, the reader is going to have to work a little harder to make the connections, and that slows down the read... even if those motivations are intentionally misleading andt there's going to be a bigger reveal later.

er, as for rambling prose... LOL. yeah. Blog entry, what can I say? I'm from the south. ;)

Thanks again for reading and posting this -- much appreciated.

 

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