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Monday, July 27, 2015

A Reminder that People Can Create Whatever the Heck They Want

Recently, one of my all-time favorite bands, Muse had a new album come out, and its release reminded me of something that a lot of consumers, especially in this day and age, forget: Creatives can make whatever the heck they want.

Too often I hear fans complain about a creative's new work. When J.K. Rowling released The Casual Vacancy, I heard people gripe about how she should have written another fantasy, or specifically a Harry Potter sequel. One person even said if she had any business sense and wanted to make more money, that that's what she should have done. I once read an article where the writer couldn't understand why J.K. Rowling was even writing anymore; she'd already made so much money writing Harry Potter so why would she want to put in the work to write anything else?

Similarly, I saw people a little upset to learn that Suzanne Collins's (author of The Hunger Games) next writing project was going to be something "ordinary" and "boring."

Months ago, I was looking at Spotify with someone and we ran into a Lady Gaga album, Cheek to Cheek. All the songs had a very "old-fashioned" jazz sound. Nothing sounded modern. The person I was with said something like, "Why would she even make an album like this? No one is going to buy it. I bet her fans were all disappointed."

Well, here is a newsflash for all the consumers out there. Creatives don't exist to serve us.

They don't owe us a thing.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Kicking "Great" Dialogue up to "Killer" Dialogue (with Interstellar)

I'll start off by being honest. This post can't decide if it wants to be an Interstellar post about dialogue, or a dialogue post with Interstellar as examples. In a lot of ways, there's not much difference. But basically, I'm going to talk about strategies you can use to help kick your dialogue up.

Similar to my What I Learned about Writing Action Scenes post and my 15+ Tactics for Writing Humor post, I've been . . . unsatisfied with the information available on writing killer dialogue. I read a couple of books on it and writing tips, but you know, I'm obsessive, and I wanted more.

Most of the dialogue tips I've read have been either on the grammatical basics of how to write dialogue, or really about how not to write dialogue. They might go through how to punctuate dialogue, and then talk about what not to do. They talk about bad dialogue.

Yeah, well, what about beyond all that stuff?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tips for Finding Writing Motivation

walking-with-turtles asked: Do you have any tips or advice for motivating oneself to get back into writing after having fallen out of practice? :3 

Hmmm, one quote I know comes to mind: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing - that’s why we recommend it daily.” - Zig Ziglar

Monday, July 6, 2015

Interstellar: Ramping up Try/Fail Cycles

In writing, a try/fail cycle is the main character's attempt to resolve the story's problem. There are at least three try/fail cycles in every well-written story (of this structure). Often the main character will fail the first two cycles, but not always. In Interstellar, the first try/fail is the first planet they visit, the second try/fail is the second planet they visit, and the third try/fail is the black hole.

A good writer wants each try/fail cycle to be bigger or better than the previous one. That's one key to writing a successful story. Escalate. Escalate. Escalate. The writer has got to keep increasing the tension, the stakes, and the costs.

Like I said last time, Interstellar has huge stakes and costs, and the Nolans ramp them up to the max-- all at the first planet they visit, the first try/fail cycle! Most writers wouldn't be able to do that. Do you know why?