Thursday, December 08, 2005

Top Ten Tips

First off, my apologies; it also seems like something comes up when I start something I think is important. That said, I hope these help...


My Top Ten Writing Tips:

10) Take acting classes. It may sound weird, but having the ability to role-play characters is a major advantage, and doing it by getting into the character's mind is a major plus.

9) Study script-writing. Look at more than just the format; consider pacing, beats, and why the three-act structure works, as well as proper escalation.

8) Take some journalism classes. As a writer you need to learn that less is more, and this is probably the best way to do it.

7) Spend some time in a bar or a park. You want somewhere busy, where people are talking to another, the busier the better. The idea is that you're going to need to learn conversation, and where better to learn than where people do a lot of talking? There's a reason so many writers have a reason for being drunks...

6) Kill your darlings. If something is cool, but it doesn't fit with what you are doing, then don't be afraid to not use it. The cool scene may end up being the albatross that kills whatever you're working on. You can note it, and use it later, but don't feel obligated to use everything you write.

5) Character>Plot. Don't force your characters into doing things that they wouldn't do. If your plot requires that your villain make a really stupid mistake, give him a realistic reason for making the mistake, like his girlfriend is breaking up with him or he has some serious bad news to deal with.

4) Avoid gratuities. Always tip your waitress, but don't use sex, violence, and language unless you have a reason, and shocking people isn't an acceptable one. John Woo should be your role-model, not Quentin Tarantino. Now, if you're making an erotic comic, use all the sex you want, but otherwise try to avoid it.

3) Read and watch. Any arguments re: "but then you don't have any of your own ideas" are BS. You would be surprised when those bits of trivia come in handy. Also, you need ideas to get your own. And watch the bad as well as the good; you never know what diamonds you'll find in the mud.

2) Have fun. Don't do this if you see it as a chore; just remember to take it seriously.

1) To thine own self be true. If you're doing this to pick up girls, or impress people with your ability to write, this is the wrong place. Write because you need to do as badly as breath, not because you want to get rich or laid...


Willie Hewes said...

(You know that's not how you spell hamster, right?)

Anyway, this is interesting. I've always been of the opinion that plot should guide the characters, not the other way around. To me, story is everything, the characters are just there to tell it. You can't have your characters running the show, or it will become utter chaos.

Your example of the bad guy screwing up because he's angsting over his girlfriend still holds true, though. (Maybe not a very good example.) The plot says he has to screw up, so he does. He may come up with a reason for it to protect his dignity, but he has to screw up.

Hm, I was just thinking of doing some how-to-write bloggings at some point. I may elaborate my point in my own space sometime.

I'm reading your blog backwards. TTYL, if I have any more to say. (Yes, I'm the williehewes from gaia, btw)

Finbar Reilly said...

Actually, "hamster" is the derivative spelling; the "p" became silent over time, and then the spelling lost the "p".

I'm also keeping the "archaic" spelling because it's in honor to a friend way back when...

Also, if it makes you happy, I'll deal with why characters guide plot in a few posts...