1. Amai
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    Amai Member

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    Style The calm between action - Not my strongsuit

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Amai, Jul 8, 2014.

    So I have an issue with build up.
    Even though I have some great plots in my head, I have little to no patience.
    I start off slow, trying to introduce the characters clearly one at a time.
    But then I catch myself wanting to blow something up and/or kill off a character because the whole time I'm writing about them my mind is going
    "I created this character purely so they could die and leave impact. So why am I bothering to write about their feelings?"
    And yes. That last sentence was meant to be long and with a lack of comma's or fullstops, because this is just how I talk.
    Not how I write my work though.
    When I write many short sentences with lovely grammar, nicely placed fullstops and good paragraphing, it makes me want to kill something. And, since I'm writing at the time. It usually ends up being a character or two.

    But enough of my rant.
    Basically all my stories start;
    - Protagonist introduced
    - Companions introduced
    - Fictional world introdu- theeeen people start dying
    - Stuff gets kind of interesting with the dying and the running and whatnot
    - Has completely lost myself and the audience due to lack of solid ground

    My main issue is that I cannot write anything remotely good if it is in the norm.
    I crack dry jokes, overemphasize my characters (Like having the group idiot trip up or fumble in every possible moment) and don't know how to introduce concepts of the story without introducing too much too early, or too little that the audience becomes bored and confused.

    Plus I can't seem to find a balance between conflict and characters getting along too much.
    So they'll either be fighting each other with each sentence, or agreeing with each other too much.

    Basically I'm asking for any tips on how to deal with "boring" segments.
    My stories are mostly based around conflict and violence.
    I love saying things like, "with the click of the trigger his face was scattered across the pavement" Short and sweet.
    I even have an issue with using the same word more than once.
    Like if I'd said "his car" earlier, I'll feel the urge to say "his vehicle" next and then "his ride" later.
    I like to end things, I'm just terrible at starting them and keeping them alive long enough for anyone to give a damn.
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This is an interesting thread, which I think deserves some discussion.

    I'm curious. Why is it that you are more interested in the fights than the characters themselves?

    My concern is that if your readers don't care about your characters, they won't care whether they live or die, and probably won't read very much of your story at all. The characters won't matter to them any more than Pac Man does. Violence, just like anything else, will lose its impact if it's used too often, and it will become very boring to read.

    You seem to recognise that there's a problem with this kind of writing. I'm interested in finding out why your writing always seems to take this turn. What is it about killing off your characters that's so attractive to you?

    I wonder if maybe you spent more time creating characters that YOU actually care about, that maybe the urge to just kill them off in a burst of colourful language will diminish. You'll be more interested in seeing what they do with their lives instead.

    Can you think of any movies or books with characters you cared about? People you wanted to stay alive? People you wanted to win? It might be a good place to start. What kind of character do you get attached to yourself?
     
  3. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Killing off characters is fine but as @jannert said you need to have your readers care a bit first. Why do you like the characters in the first place? or do u just add them in in order to kill them off.
     
  4. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    Write the characters reactions to the action. Do they hide? Plan? Figure out what they did right or wrong?

    What was the propose of the action scene? Was it a step towards (or a step back from) a larger goal? If so, focus on the larger goal. What are the characters doing to achieve it?
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Before I comment, I have to wonder if you are writing with an expectation of someone wanting to read what you write, or only for your own amusement. If the latter, then you don't have a problem. You can simply continue to write violent scenes and not worry about the "boring stuff".

    However, given that you have been moved to ask the question, I suspect it's the former.

    I don't think this is a problem with writing technique. It's not a problem with expression. I think it goes to how you perceive human interactions and human dignity. And I strongly urge you to talk to someone - a trusted relative or teacher or professional - about it.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I like how Jannert mentioned Pac Man because sometimes I think there's a connection with ( certain ) new writers and video games. The characters are created to be punished and killed rather than enjoyed. Maybe I'm wrong, though. But it's an idea. And I agree this is an interesting topic because I battle reasons to kill off, or keep my characters alive.
    Reasons to kill them off - makes a powerful statement, it suits the story and any other ending would seem false.
    Reasons to keep them alive - makes an equally powerful statement, gives a reader hope, any other ending would seem over the top or expected.

    I don't look at death as the ultimate ending. I was watching the Searchers the other day - An excellent John Wayne movie. I read the book years ago in the early 90's.
    In the movie version - Ethan the mc has been searching for his niece Debbie who has been kidnapped by the Indian tribe that slaughtered her family. He travels with Martin ( Debbie adopted brother ) who is part Indian. He's wildly prejudice against Indians and is furious to find Debbie has become part of the tribe but at the end of the movie when he finds her he overcomes his prejudice and embraces her. The book version is drastically different. At the end Ethan doesn't overcome his prejudice and start to strangle Debbie. Martin shoots him and leaves him for dead. The movie version coming out during a time when prejudices were beginning to be questioned left the audience on a hopeful note - people can change. The book version left it on a rather grim note - people don't change. It's not that either version is necessarily wrong but there's a power in showing change.

    Maybe take the urge to create violent scenes and spin them into crime dramas - a lot of these don't have time for boring segments and a lot of characters are created specifically for the body count - ever read Vachss?
     
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  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course it is fun to get to the climax of a scene, the big battle, whatever. But that is not telling a story. That is the literary equivalent of a Road Runner cartoon. Coyote lights a fuse and throws the bomb, but it bounces back and "BOOM" his face is black and Road Runner escapes.

    An author is a story teller, a spinner of tales. He must desire, enjoy, creating scenes and worlds, populating them with interesting characters, and creating an intriguing plot. If all of that is boring to you, if it all seems pointless and mere drudgery, then are you sure that you want to write, that you truly enjoy writing? There is no trick that will help you "deal" with those "boring" segments. Those "boring" parts ARE the novel. The "Bang! You're dead!" bit is just the full stop, the period at the end of the sentence.
     
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  8. Quill Boy
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    Quill Boy Member

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    I think that when you develop characters you like, you will find that writing about them will be more enjoyable. You might find yourself wanting to discover more about them and in doing that; want to endeavour to complete the 'boring' parts. And, as people have said, grow attached to them. I really enjoy some of my characters and the 'boring' parts because when I write I feel as if I learn more about them and that is exciting for me. I think with practice and patience; it should come to you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to blow stuff up though - just keep it to your writing ;)
    QuillBoy
     
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  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You could always start with a death and write about how the other characters react to the death. Depending on how you handle it, it will be good for characterization.
     
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  10. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I think this can happen to any writer regardless of what genre they write in. I sometimes find myself with my book files looking like just a whole load of bad scenarios (bad for them, not bad writing) and then I have to sit back and think of some good times to insert that will not only keep the story going and the reader interested, but will fill the gaps between the big bad pivotal moments.

    Good luck with yours! x
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I like this idea. It might be a way for @Amai to deal with his desire to kill people off right away, and still develop a good story. However, he'll need to keep from doing it to everybody else as well ...unless he's got a great angle on it!
     
  12. Nothingness
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    Nothingness Active Member

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    Well... you should do your best not to have boring parts in your stories...

    Of course that doesn't mean that there's always stuff blowing up and bullet dodging, because if that's your floor it will become boring quickly.

    The hard thing is finding ways of telling your story that keep the readers attetion. Action scenes aren't terribly interesting to read about, if there's nothing to create tension in the reader's mind it's just plain boring...

    That being said things don't have to be written in order. And they don't have to be presented in order either.

    You should capture your reader's attention and keep it. That's what a good story does. It's what you should aim for.
     
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  13. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    This.

    If it's boring, then something's wrong. There should be no boring. But a story is structured with peaks and valleys, moments of high tension followed by moments of low tension. The moments of low tension have to be just as compelling and interesting as the moments of high tension, however, in order to keep the reader reading.
     
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  14. Amai
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    Amai Member

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    Well, my main issue isn't that I don't like my characters. In fact for me I put my favorite characters through hell and kill them in the most horrifying/heartbreaking ways.

    I went through some shit growing up and the only way I can respect someone is if they've been through hell.
    I feel like if you haven't suffered to get to where you are, you don't deserve happiness as much as those who do.
    I have deep sympathy for the losers, the rejects and the assholes because "Normal people" don't give enough of a damn to look past their immediate actions and into their internal struggle.
    And it shows in my characters and stories.

    I have no clear cut "good guys" or "bad guys" because my protagonists get into situations where they have to do shitty things to protect the people they love.
    And my antagonists always have understandable reasons to fight and to antagonize. Instead of it being the old boring "I'll kill them because they're trying to stop me." It's usually more personal.

    For example;
    In my pirate story the Protagonist is the spawn of a pirate captain raping a princess. One night his mother escapes and from then his life turned into a complete living hell. Decades later the father finds the mother and kills her, taking her royal daughter as a prize. Upon finding out he has a sister he finds a spark of hope and flees with her.
    So the father is hunting for his prized horse (the son and only living royal heir besides the sister) while the son goes through countless trials of morality in order to keep his sister safe (sometimes against her own will as she tries to escape him).

    I don't think it helps that I've played mostly every important event in the story countless times in my head.
    I almost seem to assume everybody knows who Leuc is or what the planet Neon looks like and how the society operates.
    I don't have too much trouble developing the concepts, I just find it difficult trying to put it into an explainable scenario.
    I'm mostly terrible at introducing/presenting my world and the characters.
    And I'm also trying to ween myself out of using my old way of writing. I carried an attitude of "The clues are there, you figure out what's going on. If you get lost it's your own fault." into pretty much every piece I wrote.
     
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  15. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    "I created this character purely so they could die and leave impact. So why am I bothering to write about their feelings?"

    I think this says it all. The only way a character leaves an impact is if when we read about them we can truly understand how they feel. If the reader is unable to relate to the character then they will leave absolutely no impact. If you want to create an impact you need to create a connection between the reader and the character.
     
  16. Amai
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    Amai Member

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    Sorry, there's another one of my issues.
    I write from a purely emotion based area, I get so wound up in emotion that logic and reason leave me. Sending me off on a rant about one piece of the topic.
    I like the action because there is raw life in action for me and besides, I don't know how to deal with calm because it's only recently that I've escaped my rut of fighting for survival.
    I don't know how to be with people if we're not fighting each other or together, against another. Either that or being sickly polite or romantic. Mixing violence and the "soft lens" as I call it has only ever worked out twice, with a psychopathic couple romance scene and a vampire short story where he'd just killed his lover out of bloodlust. Otherwise it just gets all weird and I lose all the readers that like the gritty violence.

    Even when my characters are in the calm they're fighting each other verbally, even in the mildest sense. Small things like "Hey, I think we got a lightweight!" "Shut up, I hear this stuff cures cancer, maybe it'll cure your bullshit."
    Or they are too nice and trusting of each other after just meeting one another.
     
  17. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    Collaborate @Amai. There's probably writers out there that do all that "boring" stuff really well, until they need to have someone killed off. This is where you come in. I'd put up a post in the Collab section that reads like "It is time for your character to die? Let me kill them for you!"

    Or just stick to short stories. Nothing wrong with starting in the middle of action either.
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the story as you've presented it to us. You obviously do care about your Protagonist a lot. He obviously cares about his sister (and cared about his mother too, at least until she left without him.) And he hates his father, and for very good reason. So take us into this. Let us live in his head. Let us be there when his mother leaves him or when she dies. What does he do at that moment? Let us live with him while his father mistreats him. Let us be there when he discovers he's got a sister, which gives him something to live for besides just revenge. What is the meeting between himself and his sister like? What does he hope she'll be like? What is she actually like?

    I like the implication that your Protagonist is trying to keep his sister safe, while she is resisting him. Why would she do that? A very interesting issue to explore here. What is going on in her life that would make her react that way? Perhaps she doesn't feel threatened at all, and sees her brother as somebody who is wrecking her life and/or prospects.

    Anyway ...what part of this scenario is boring? None of it. It's got me interested, just the bare bones of it. You have a very strong emotional thrust to the story. I suppose we all want to see your Protagonist 'win' and probably kill his father ...but will it be a 'happy ending?' Or will he end up being the leader of the pirate gang himself, and perpetrating the same kinds of crimes as his father did? Maybe even worse. (Think The Godfather...)

    I think the trick is for you to get into this character's head and stay there. Don't worry so much about moving the plot forward quickly. Make us feel what he feels. Let us watch his father strutting around, owning his universe, and whatever happens next. Flesh it out with other characters. Do all of his father's pirate gang treat your Protagonist with contempt and cruelty? Is there anyone there who seems to be sympathetic? Anybody who helps him at all? If so, who is this person, what are they like ...and what happens to them?

    So many ways for this story to go.
     
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  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sounds like a really complex and interesting idea for a novel, I hope you manage to write it :)

    From what you wrote, you struck me as a person who is quite restless and perhaps a bit impulsive. It's as if you lack patience and ability to just sit still, allow things to come to you. As if the first thing you think of, you write and move on. As for violence and action, characters relating in a rather black or white manner, it goes well with the rest. I gather you are a young man, so this just might be why, sometimes it takes until we are a little older to be able to focus for long enough on a long task like a novel. They are surprisingly complex things to write, and they usually demand we push our minds past the first, second and third choice for where we take our story next, and come up with something more. Also, planning and contemplating can take at least as long if not longer than the actual writing. Rushing it only gets you so far.

    In books there must be no boring bits. But there are transitions that need to richly characterise or contribute to the story in some way, move the plot forward. I think this is possibly the hardest thing to write well.

    You can significantly improve your style though, by getting disciplined. Think of it as kung fu, how much it can help us focus our minds and bodies, let it all drop off in order to reach deep inside and gain patience and clarity.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
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  20. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I think in your mind, that purely emotion based area, you have an understanding of why the characters act the way they do. Why are your characters fighting? I think you know but don't believe it's necessary to let the reader know or look at it as just more work. You can try to play it off as leaving out "boring" parts but readers will see it as being one dimensional.
     

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