I’m on holidays at the moment but I’m reposting some of the more popular posts from my old blog, Darkened Jade. If you leave a comment I’ll be sure to catch up with you when I get back.
Of the two, I much prefer fiction. Mostly because in fiction you can be reasonably assured of getting an ending (whether it is happy or not depends on the genre and author really), and you can be reasonably assured of a basic underlying logic to the entire thing.
Reality, unfortunately is not like that.
Recently I was very harsh in my criticism of comedies where events just seem to randomly pile, one after the other, onto the heap in any old fashion. This doesn’t suit my view on how a story ought to be told. However, it does kind of follow the natural order of events in the real world.
Maybe we could say there is some underlying logic to most of the things that happen. As in, if you speed, you will get a ticket, etc. However, sometimes things just happen. They are random and unpredictable (though random kind of has to be unpredictable) and they don’t really connect logically to any decision or process that was set upon by anyone.
In fiction, if you wander out into the forest, you are going to get lost. You are then going to be accosted by a little old lady, a wolf, or a band of cannibals, and several of your friends are probably going to die horribly. Unless you are the unfortunate one selected to be the friend, in which case, you are going to have a really interesting death sequence and set your friend upon a course of vengeance or flight. There are only a limited number of possibilities in the average fiction.
In reality, nothing may happen. You wander into the forest, you wander out. You might break your leg, or fall down something steep. You might get chased by a pack of wild dogs and end up in a tree. You might simply take some interesting photos. Possibly you could disappear for a ten year period then mysteriously turn up on the other side of the world -but this seems less likely.
Reality – unpredictable – illogical.
Stick with fiction.
And here’s the link if you haven’t yet checked out the blurb or excerpt for Death’s Daughter.
I’d be the first to admit that I sometimes don’t write every day. In fact, I can go for weeks at times without writing. But then I’ll suddenly start and the words will flow and stopping becomes quite difficult. Even when I’m superbly busy and should be doing other things.
Those spaces in between aren’t procrastination. Merely a different part of my process. I am planning, thinking, wondering. I am turning ideas around inside my head and waiting to know which one is worth pursuing. And once I know, I begin and I write with certainty.
What keeps me writing? I love it. It is a part of me. Every word given life upon the page and worked over and over again.
Yes, it is tiring. Yes, it is distracting from all the other things I could be doing. Yes, sometimes it keeps me away from things I want to do. But clearly I don’t want sleep or to do any of those other things as much as writing. And for as long as that is true, I will write.
Right now, I haven’t had the time to write properly (without distraction) for two days. My MC was left hanging underneath a rock ledge, fighting for grip on slippery rock in a scene that will undoubtably be cut from the next draft. I am currently pursuing a random thought that crossed my mind earlier in the week and I shoved the MC over the edge just to see what would happen. It is entertaining but really unhelpful to the plot so in the next rewrite she might be saved the effort of rescuing herself.
If I don’t write, she’ll hang there forever. I’ll always wonder what she would have done next. I’ll never see the story through and I’ll never get to the rewrite where I remove the useless scene (or find a use for it). Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. It isn’t as if this story that I’m working on will ever change the world. But I want to write it.
That is my motivation.
What is yours?
Okay – the poll results are in and the question that 50% of the voters wanted answered was… imagine a drum roll, it adds to the suspense:
What is the most important element of a novel to you and why?
As such, I am now calling for all the writers out there (published and unpublished) to have a go at answering this question and share their thoughts. If you would like to participate in this it is really, really easy.
- Write a response to the question above (aiming for about 250 words for the response).
- Write a brief bio for yourself.
- Send me an email with your response, a picture of yourself (optional), a brief bio and a link to your blog (if you have one) before February 10. Email address is cassandra.jade.author (at) gmail.com. Please do not spam me.
- Visit the blog from February 15 and read the wonderful responses and join in the conversation that follows.
Step 5 would be good too – share this information with everyone else so that we get many participants and many comments.
For those who participated in the last call for writers, I hope you respond again because I look forward to your responses. For those new to reading the blog, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
To recap – Novel Element Series is running from Feb 15 and I am hoping to be able to run it over the week (depending on the number of responses). If you would like to contribute, email me your response before Feb 10. Looking forward to seeing the responses and if you wanted a different question answered keep your eyes open for the third call to writers that will happen sometime after February.
It kind of amazes me the number of blogs I’ve visited just in the last four days that still have Avatar as a major discussion point. Admittedly, I really loved the movie (flaws and all) but the movie is beside the point. What really is interesting is how much discussion this movie has generated before its release and continues to generate weeks after its release. Everyone seems to have an opinion and it is ranging from how brilliant and amazing this movie was, how mind blowingly unique and stunning, etc, etc, to how pedestrian the story was and how bland the characters seem, etc, etc. Love it or hate it, everyone is still talking about it.
Wouldn’t everyone just love that much discussion about their own writing, whether it be good or bad?
The main arguments for Avatar being amazing (that I’ve come across) are:
- Visually stunning
- Cool action sequences
- Characters who become beloved by the end of the movie (though that is a very debatable issue)
The main arguments for Avatar being somewhat underwhelming seem to be:
- The story is not original (though I’d love to ask what movie anyone has seen recently that has had an original story line)
- There is an over reliance on special effects
- The characters are flat and uninteresting
- Neytiri crying (apparently some people found the sound of her grief irritating – I can’t imagine why. I thought everyone loved ear splitting shrieks)
I loved Avatar. I know the story is not particularly original. There are moments during it where you could almost swear you were watching a more sophisticated version of Fern Gully (particularly when the forest starts lighting up underfoot) and there are no surprises in the plot. The characters are not fantastic. They are archetypes that are barely fleshed out and in many stories that would annoy me but it isn’t a deal breaker with Avatar. Yes, it is visually amazing, and I really want one of those glowy, spinny, lizard things because they are so cute but that wasn’t why I loved it.
I loved Avatar because it is a strong story, well put together. Each scene and each character serves a very specific purpose and they all work. You are swept up in the story, you follow along, the tension builds, you reach the climax and you are satisfied with the resolution. That to me is a successful story and the visual effects simple support the story and help to make you believe in a world that couldn’t possibly exist.
For me, the worst part of Avatar wasn’t the storyline, it was the slight extension on so many sequences and scenes just so they could show off the visual effects for that little bit longer than necessary. Look at each of the flight sequences. Every single one could have been shortened (whether they were in helicopters or on the dragon things) without changing the story in any way.
I am now jumping off the Avatar bandwagon. I’ve watched it twice and I’ve read so many discussions about it and now I’ve posted my own thoughts and I am putting it to rest until the DVD comes out. I would however like to know what you think about Avatar and the ongoing debates about the movies ‘greatness’.
While this may not seem writing related at first, I have a point. I’m sure of it. Somewhere down the page the point will emerge from all of this victorious.
I live in Australia. More importantly I live in Queensland. We don’t have a lot of rain but where it rains here, it really rains. All day to day there has been a storm building in the air. I can feel it. Not in my bones, I’m not quite that old yet, but every part of me has been screaming that there is a storm approaching.
The first is the wave of nauseating heat and humidity that knocks you over at six in the morning. This is followed by walking out under an absolutely clear sky with the golden circle of the sun radiating heat towards you. As you sit in the early morning traffic-jam you wonder if you should have the air-con on in the can and then you realise that eventually you have to get out of the car and you will positively wilt if you’ve been sitting in a cool car.
Once I get to work my hair grabs the humid air and frizzes into all manner of contorted shapes. None of them resembled well styled, or even brushed, hair. There is a storm coming. Everyone knows it. Everyone can feel it.
By the time the dark clouds begin rolling in, the storm is old news. Everyone has already resigned themselves to closing the house up tight, even though it is still ridiculously hot. The first rumble of thunder rolls over and it is an almost welcome release from the day long anticipation. And then… Nothing.
The clouds hang. The humidity stays. The sweat continues to roll down your face. The cat lies against the window pushing her fur against the cool glass. And nothing happens.
Maybe tonight we’ll get the storm, maybe not, but I know I’m feeling let down.
Now comes my leap back to linking with writing.
There is nothing worse than reading a book that builds and builds and builds and then realising that there is nothing coming. As a reader it leaves you unsatisfied and even annoyed that you wasted all that time committing to caring about the characters. This is true even when you know there is a sequel coming. If the book doesn’t contain something that gives the reader that moment of deep satisfaction then odds are, they aren’t going to read it again and they certainly won’t recommend it to others.
Tension is good. Building anticipation is great. Leaving it totally unrealised and hanging at the close of the book = not a fantastic idea.
Let me know what you think.