31 August 2006

What's the Point?

Rarely do I read a writer’s work before a plot consultation, other than the Character Emotional Development Profile (on the Tips page of www.BlockBusterPlots.com) for the main character(s) and the Thematic Significance Statement for the project. So, I can't prove this impression. But, I wonder if the writers who start out really verbal and attempt to tell me everything at once, write that way, too. In other words, is the first 1/2 hour of settling down into the plot consultation process mirrored in as many pages for the writer to settle into the rhythm of their own writing? I don't know the answer; it's just something I wonder about.

Everyone is different, but it’s not unusual for these same writers to balk over my organized approach. I wait patiently as they dart back and forth, interjecting tidbits here and there. I sense their fear that structure surely constricts and will destroy the magic and mystery of the creative process itself. I listen to each of their words carefully as I steadily and gently corral their scenes and ideas into the universal story form. But, I can’t help wondering. Does this same sort of frenetic activity also show up in their writing?

Perhaps at the root of this are writers who, in surrendering completely to the whims of the muse, are uncertain as to what the project is really about. Getting to the point can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what the point is. Determining your characters’ goals and your own personal writing goals helps.

05 August 2006

Historical Fiction plot

Authentic historical facts and details serve to ground the reader in another place and time. To find those just-right details, one must research. In researching, we writers uncover lots and lots of fascinating tidbits. One nugget leads to another which leads to the next. The more we find, the more we want to weave into the story.

Today's consultation served as a prime example of when not to use historical facts and details.

Rule of thumb: If historical facts and/or details serve to deepen and inform the story itself ~ meaning either the dramatic action plot, or the character emotional development plot, or the thematic significance plot, or all three at once ~ use them.

However, if you find yourself wanting to add those titillating tidbits because they are fascinating to you and thus, you reason, the reader will find them fascinating, too ~ wrong.

Whether a novel, short story, or screenplay, the story itself is all that matters. Even one unrelated or distantly related historical fact can dilute the story overall and will often confuse the reader.

Don't use historical facts because you can. Use what will enhance the story.