I know. It’s been like a week. I’m sorry. I fell off the band wagon and have about 4 days worth of content to get caught up on. And… I’m sorry. And I love you guys. All five of my subs. I love you, I promise.
I’m not gonna lie, I had a weird depressive down swing. I don’t know if I actually have clinical depression, but I wouldn’t be surprised. That rant and story will have to come another day. I’m going to chalk it up to many things, more stuff I won’t get into now. But I did have one.
So I fell off the band wagon HARD, rolled into the ditch, and had to lie there crying about it for a while. But, I’m back now, and going to work crazy hard (emphasis on the crazy) to get back on track. But if we never catch up, we are not going to beat ourselves up about it, because if we do that, then we will feel more and more stressed and then quit. And we cannot have that. We have also been using the royal we all this time and we don’t care because REASONS.
The funny thing is, I took copious notes on this several days ago, but my son decided that writing was never going to happen while he was awake. That’s the first push-off the bandwagon I had. But I can’t blame him entirely.
Beginnings are still really hard, and I like that they say don’t write the first pages first. I often write the end before I write the beginning. The end often gets changed by the time I get to the end, but that’s fine. It’s a good ride to get there.
Mary gives us a good example of how the opening pages feel, like we are in a dark room and we are only shining around a flashlight to figure out our tone and our promises to be made.
Howard also talks about taking the paragraph and flipping the paragraph upside down. The last line needs to be first, often times. It’s an interesting problem that I hadn’t ever though about, and I may do this more often.
I also really like the idea that you should stress the first page and not necessarily the first lines. Specifically what’s important to the character, what they want.
This keeps getting stressed and I feel like I should stress it, too. Everyone wants something, and that’s what we focus on.
I want to write, more so, I want to write for people. So everything I do aims toward that goal. But I’m more complex than that. I also want my son to be happy and my husband, so I do everything in my power to make that happen. Even forgoing what I want to do (sit at my computer and write all day) to do things for them. Play with my son, cuddle my husband, or cook dinner for them that they enjoy. All things that makes them feel loved and happy and full fills what I am striving to do.
Write your first thirteen lines, and see how much you can fit into that space—character attitude, point-of-view, mood, genre, conflict, setting, and more.
The reason they give this prompt is because standard manuscript format means that the first page will only be thirteen lines. My Scrivener application will compile manuscripts like this, so I can easily see how the first page of my manuscript will look.
So, what does the first thirteen lines look like in my book?
"Normally, I never question your orders. I kill when you
tell me and when you are paying me. But this time it's too
risky. Convince me."
"Ha! You're speaking like one of my clerks. You're sitting
in my office, drinking my bourbon, asking me to justify my
actions for the betterment of this world to you?"
"I'm drinking a fine drink offered to me, along with a
comfortable chair, asking you to justify my actions to me."
"Are you getting soft?"
"I'll take that as no. We're shaping the course of events,"
So, what does this tell us about the book we are about to read?
This is very spy like.
There is conflict going on before we even get off the ground.
The author isn’t going to tell us everything up front.
World building how your wilderness works in a fantasty peice!!!
This is a wildcard episode and while it has some good questions for my fugitive story, the prompt has nothing to do with it. SO, I will not be doing the prompt for this episode, and will be posting the prompt for 10.14 separately, because it’s going to be LONG.
But let’s get to the notes and thoughts, shall we?
When we consider how your wilderness works, we are really asking, “How in the world would my character go camping in the world that I’ve built.” This is to make sure we don’t do a white room thing, where everything is improbable and we explain none of the trial fail cycles that usually go along with camping.
I grew up here in Alaska, and if you don’t hunt and fish and camp, you’re kind of not a true Alaskan. So wilderness survival is something I’m very familiar with, at least in the comfort of my own geographic area. If you dropped me in the middle of the Sahara, I would die.
This is point that they make in the podcast, but another good question to ask is “What is your character’s relationship with the great outdoors?” A computer tech will probably not be very competant in the outside (although a really great twist would be a techie who is SUPER prepared because they watch Bear Grylls while coding.), meanwhile big mean Lone Ranger archetype knows exactly what to do.
Basically the whole podcast episode can be boiled down to the question of, “If I threw my character into the middle of the woods, how would the ENVIROMENT effect them?”
This is a good introduction Podcast, but it definitely jumps around. But that’s what the middle of your story does as well, you have to run around on side quests and do silly try/fail cycles before you can get to your climax.
I like the idea that you can have set peices and those moments that are moments of awesome. And all moments of awesome will be a set price, but a set price will not always be a moment of awesome. It was one of my favorite ideas from the podcast and the only one I will highlight today. My head is pounding. Appologies, April is usually when I get sick.
Take the reverse engineered outline from a month ago, and move a side plot to the main plot.
Oh, dang it. This was the one that I did about a basic episode of NCIS, Crap!
Well… The are several side story lines that are woven through the whole series. Gibbs and his wife and daughter, the McGee/Abby thing, the DiNozzo/Ziva thing. Those are all season long and even series long side stories that affect what’s happening in the story.
But what’s a good one to tackle?
Ducky and his mom.
Doctor Mallard, even though he looks quite old, his mother is still living. He lives with her and their three corgis. We see her in an actual episode a couple times, but she’s mostly just mentioned in passing.
Then she dies, and it effects ducky so deeply, he almost looses focus. But then he pulls himself out of it. And he pulls through. That try fail cycle, that’s how the writers build that stand up and cheer moment.
I know. I should have posted two yesterday. And I still need to post another today. This is harder to catch up on than originally anticipated.
Writing Excuses episode 10.5 is all about how to fix your boring main character. Which is a problem you may or may not know that you have. I wish that the wonderful hosts had touched more on this, but this is not a problem you will know you have if you don’t have a writing group.
I do write this at this time with no writing group. Weep for me.
I do want to do a Skype writing group or something at some time. Maybe… help…
Anyway, this is not something you will know you have an issue with unless you have group of people that you can trust who can give you useful and KIND feedback. If you’re not certain about your friends in your writing group, get a new writing group.
I might need to start a writing group…
Anyway, one of my favorite things they say are things that DO NOT make an interesting main character.
While this makes the overall character somewhat interesting and a little bit different, it does not mean that they are interesting. Just because your main character likes wearing rainbow socks with their Bermuda shorts, doesn’t mean that they are going to be super interesting. They MUST be deeper than that.
If your character is doing super interesting stuff and is surrounded by super interesting people, they are still monochrome!!! I think that I do some pretty interesting stuff and I know some very interesting people, however, I’m pretty boring. I’m animated, but boring. There MUST be a character arc for that main character to be interesting. I’m thinking of doing a character arc progression spread in my idea journal, to make sure this is ACTUALLY HAPPENING.
Also… I LIKE CAPS LOCK TODAY.
Agency (I gave up on alliteration. I can’t find a synonym for this.)
If your main character is standing there, watching as your side characters do all the cool stuff, your character is boring. The end.
I liked what Mary said about responsibility. If your character is an assassin, kills a crap-load of people and then doesn’t have an internal conflict (how did it come to this) or an external conflict (being chased by the cops or a subsequent government agency), it’s BORING.
If your character has no stake in what’s happening in your larger world, the character is not an interesting person to carry your plot. In fact, you may have no plot. It’s a big problem. So give them something worth fighting for, even if the character doesn’t know that they need to fight for the thing at first, the discovery of that thing is a really good conflict. If there is no stake, there is no story.
Be proud of me! I’m doing headers and everything, like a grown up blogger and everything!
Take three different characters and walk them through a scene. Convey their emotional states, their jobs, and their hobbies without directly stating any of those. The scene in question: walking through a marketplace, and they need to do a dead-drop.
This is the fun part. However, I need to do another of these today to stay on top of things. So, I’ll do just the one.
It was way too hot out and his hat made his head itch and he was hungry and thirsty.
Ray trapsed through the market, head down, package under his arm. He had to find where the food trucks were, buy a taiyaki, whatever that was, and sit down on the grass to eat it. Leaving the package in the grass, he could go about his business. Maybe he could get an ice-cream, too.
He squinted in the bright sunshine, staring at the crowds surrounding him. There were way too many people here. The place was packed; if something bad went down here, a lot of people were going to get hurt.
What would happen if he placed a bomb just there? How would that building next to it crumble.
Don’t get distracted, keep wallking.
His nose twitched, food. The sweet smell of waffles, spicy curry, fire grilled pizza. He followed the scent, as it wafted over the heads of the milling throngs.
The trucks were on the opposite end of the block from where he had started and in the parking lot of an office building. So far away. In truth, he thought to himself, it probably only took him about five minutes to get to the end of the street.
What the hell was a taiyaki? He scanned the trucks, looking for anything that said taiyaki. Wait, was that it? The truck stood, waffles in the shape of fish being handed out through the window. There it was, the sign that said “Taiyaki Fish Waffles”. He bought one, not sure what this was going to be like, and a bottle of water. He plunked down under a tree add bit into the waffle. It wasn’t the best thing ever, but it wasn’t awful. It had somekind of sweet and spicy beef with cabbage.
He swigged his water and spotted Egan; also wearing a ball cap and long sleeves, despite the heat. Egan gave him a slight nod, which Ray did not return. He just ripped another peice of taiyaki off with his teeth and chewed, pointedly. They sat, almost staring one another down, until Ray had finished his fish waffle. He swigged the last of his water and stood, leaving the small bundle in the grass behind him.
Sweet, done! Time for ice-cream.
He stood in line for a pistachio cone while he watched Egan out of the corner of his eye. Egan sat down in the grass where Ray had been, stashing the brown package in his pocket. Ray got his cone, and began to walk away with it, licking hapilly. He decided to wander along and look at the stalls, now that his chore was done. He stopped to admire some Seattle themed t-shirts.
“Is there something wrong?” Egan’s voice behind him. Ray started to turn to look, but took Egan’s elbow in the ribcage.
“Don’t look at me.” Egan hissed.
“Argh…” he stiffled his cry. “No. Why would there be something wrong?”
“You bought ice-cream.” Egan said. “Is that some sort of secret message from Leo? Did she give me something special?”
“No.” Ray, rolled his eyes. “Not everything is a secret code, Egan. I just wanted ice-cream and some time out of the workshop.”
I’m doing two in one day because I quite loved hanging out with my little family. We didn’t go to church, we slept in, and we cuddled and watched Avatar and played Lego’s. And it was awesome. Be jealous.
So my penance, to stay on track, is to write TWO of the prompts in a day. While this may sound tricky, one of the prompts is a wildcard prompt, so it almost doesn’t count.
For those of you who don’t know, in Season 10 there are Wildcard Episodes, which don’t have anything to do with the master class. This gives you a break from thinking about the story you’re writing and it also allowed those who didn’t want to participate in the master class a way out. It does make things a bit easier on us, so this way I can do a prompt that may or may not take me through the book.
Episode 10.3 is a bit hard for me. I don’t like horror. At all. Now, I say this as a person who quite enjoys both “Torchwood” (The “Doctor Who” spin-off show) and “The X-Files”. Those I find quite fun, though I have to watch something funny or light-hearted, or containing cooking to bleach my brain of it once I finish a few episodes. Lovecraftian Horror is hard to swallow.
As they explain in the episode, Lovecraftian Horror is a subgenre invented by Lovecraft. He writes most of his books from a first person perspective and the element that gives them the most horror is the fact that the books are written from the point of view of a competent humanoid.
You know how you hate it in horror movies when they say “We should split up.” or when they go into the basement unarmed to investigate the super creepy noise. Well, it appeared to annoy Lovecraft as well. He wrote stories with intelligent and competent protagonists. This revolutionized the way we want those stories told to us because the characters feel more identifiable, rather than deplorable.
This means that the fear of the unknowable is what drives the fear forward in the reader. This person is a scientist and they have NO IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING.
This does NOT sound like something I would want to read. NOPE. I feel slightly better knowing that the main character acted like a moron, even though my two horror TV shows have competent protagonists. Maybe that is why I like them… interesting bit of self-examination here.
The whole idea behind Lovecraftian Horror is that the evil your protagonist is facing is greater than they are. That is the horror. In “Torchwood”, the horror is always greater than unkillable Jack Harkness. In “The X-Files”, the horror is NEVER fully revealed or is left unanswered.
Our prompt is: Take a character, and from that character’s point of view, describe their reaction to something horrific and awful, but do so without describing the thing itself.
My character: Gustave, the chef on the dirigible tea room “The Catalyst”, which circles the tower city of Mergatroid.
Gustave shook with rage, his heart raced, is breathing became heavy. He didn’t want to look at the transmission screen, see or believe what was meeting his eyes. He looked down at his teacup, then back up at the screen, then down at the tea cup. He tried looking at his friends, who were all glued to the screen, the horror plastered on their faces that were undoubtedly plastered on his and running screaming circles in his head. He took a deep breath and looked back at the screen.
The act: a horror witnessed within the novel itself. I won’t tell you what it is. You can find out later. 😉
10.4 takes us through at Q&A. Each month they aired a question and answer episode, to provide a live forum for the master class.
When I say “each month” for us it means every four days. This means we will have one of these prompts once or twice each week.
The best way to experience each of these episodes and the questions that are in it is to listen for yourself. I took lots of notes because I’m a nerd!
Our prompt is going to be a good one!
“Take one of the ideas you’re excited about, and then audition five different characters for the lead role in that story. Make sure they’re all different from each other.”
Haha! Luckily the book that I want to write has EXACTLY these characters and it’s been VERY hard for me to pick the main character. This will hopefully help me just FREAKING PICK ONE!!! Hold on to your butts kids, here come the character profile mock ups!
Male, 20 years old, 5’10”, shaved head, brown eyes.
Sniper and Mechanic.
Uses a Savage 110 fp sniper rifle and desert eagle.
Egan would be a very interesting short story and may be a good POV to go with. He served in the military but suffered an injury. He was medically discharged, but he found something out he should not have. They erased it from his memory, along with the incident which caused his injury.
The memory loss could lend a good air of mystery and a nice questing element that the other characters don’t have. We would still have this conflict if he wasn’t our main character, but it wouldn’t nearly have prominent.
Female, 20 years old, 5’5″, dyed black hair, blue eyes.
Techie, driver, great shot.
Weapons: two combat delta pistols, throwing knives, computer.
She’s much different from Egan. While many could have her as the support character, being the techie, having a spy thriller novel from her perspective could be really fun. I will have to turn that into a thing at some point. I will have to be much more versed in computers terms before then.
Male, 17 years old, 5 foot 9 inches, brown hair, brown eyes.
Ray is Egan’s little brother and hasn’t dealt with, well, lots of things.
Egan for the military left because he felt he was the only one in the family who could help during the economic crash. This not only left Ray feeling useless, he also felt dissed by his amazing big brother.
He also doesn’t like that Egan never wrote while he was in the military. What he doesn’t want to hear is the fact that the military didn’t want them talking about what was happening in the training camps.
And then there’s Egan almost dying. Ray resents him for that, too. He’s not sure why, but it stems from him wanting his brother safe. How could Egan allow himself to get into a situation to get shot?
His motivation is mostly to stay alive and get back home. And to maybe cause as much destruction as he possibly can.
The diplomat-very good with her words and very good at convincing people to do things her way.
Maya is Leo’s little sister and while she’s good at talking to people, she struggles with finding other things that she’s good at. She’s the incompetent, along with Parker, in the group of competents. Her struggle is finding out what she’s good at when they are on the run, other than talking her sister into trouble.
I only have four of them. Samson and Parker are both support characters and I don’t think can be much else in this format. Maybe if I developed them further, later. Oh well!
So I think I just talked Ray out of the running. He’s a good source of conflict for Egan other than his memory loss. If there’s that struggle between the two brothers to gain an understanding for one another, there could be good conflict and conflict resolution.
But the other three are good. Egan is a nice classic front man, memory issues and a military career gone wrong. Could be seen as Robert Ludlum derived. Which it may be.
Leo would also be fun to play with, as her techie point of view would be vastly different from Egan’s military one. She cries the world as a series of firewalls to be bypassed by cunning. However,
Maya would be classic coming of age. “I’m good at this thing, which seems to be valuable. Why can’t I fit in?” This could lend a credibility with younger readers that another character simply couldn’t achieve. She’s younger than the other two, who both have more and different experience to her own. However, should a character be chosen simply on the fact that they will be more relatable to younger readers?
If I had to choose one of these, it would be Maya. A nice different POV to steal from and a coming of age/fugitive novel would be tons of fun to work with. It’s different from what I grew up reading!
I love all of these characters so much, however, I don’t think I want to choose a single POV from which to write.
The ideas of characters as attached to this work are the legal property of the Author (Zoë Fleischer) and plagiarism will be met with legal action.