Lifeline's 'Progress' Journal

Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Lifeline, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    Watched a video regarding how characters relate to a 'theme'.

    Now, I am no follower of any one school of thought and certainly I'm not gonna tell you that every story needs to have a high-and-mighty theme. I happen to think that a theme can also emerge (as it did with my story) organically. It needn't even be conscious. After watching the above video my theme jumped out at me, but that's another story.

    What's given me pause is that this video makes the argument that characters (primary and secondary) in a story needs to be linked by a theme. In their reaction to the theme, they differ. Their different reaction to the theme links them together. I think this is true. And no, I can't state cerebral arguments against or for. I'm going with my gut here. But now that I think about it, a common theme unites all my characters. The ones I am unsure about, they are not drawn in as strongly as the others. But soon they will be.
     
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  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @Lifeline -- I watched the video. I'm with you about believing that themes can or even should happen organically. I'm a pantser. And sometimes I don't even know what the theme is, probably because it's not something I'm thinking about. But I had a similar reaction to watching this video. Some themes of my novel-in-progress sort of popped into my head. Interesting.

    I can see how this works looking backward on what I've written. My novel's a murder mystery so my characters are all linked by the story occasion. But what I tried to do was tangle it all up when it came to the relationships and interactions my chapters have. It's sort of like what he's talking about. But I never looked at it that way when I started writing it, or until now, really.

    I can't imagine planning all this out and then still have to come up with a storyline as well. It just seems like so much work. I think it would make me give up before I even started the actual story. I do think it makes sense, looking in reverse. I just think it would be a very hard process to follow.

    I also think writers should alway trust their intuitions. Even if some sort of formal or approach like this works, it still would produce various stories and various lengths of closeness to it. And even those following something like this might likes stray off course when it suits the story.
     
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  3. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    @deadrats -- Like you, I also think that this degree of planning would (probably) produce only a massive headache. But what I can envision easily, is in editing and revising paying attention to this kind of reflection. When people do a structural edit, most is up for grabs anyway. And if someone edits as you and me, one more logical thought process about how it all could link together during the long time it takes to finish a piece won't hurt.

    I've made the experience that even if I am not consciously paying attention to stuff I've read once upon a time and which is consigned to the sixth hell of forgotten memory, I am liable to use the concept anyway. Nothing I ever read about the craft of writing is forgotten.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
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  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    At my writer's course, we got homework. Write 4-800 words on someone stuck in traffic. It was supposed to be a characterisation exercise.

    Well. I took one day to plan. Then I took about three hours to write. Got 1.1k of a finished short story 'Emergency Stop', one I'm proud to have written. But now I can't upload it to the course because it's too long. Not sure what to do now. Should I write another piece? After having written what I wrote, I can't imagine diluting my experience—because hot damn do I love this story!—with writing something mundane. Everything in me rebels at the thought.

    o_O

    ETA. I managed to cull to 798 words. Don't ask me how. Tomorrow I'll take a look if I culled too much.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
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  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    Gotham, second and third results.

    This story I wrote, the 790 words long 'Emergency Stop' short. Genre: Literary. I wrote it in 1st person, present tense. The first time ever I used such a POV. My teacher said 'Good job' (among other positive comments). Now, half a week later, I still am satisfied. This short is another level than what I usually write in 3rd close POV. But the differences are not only, repeat not only caused by POV. I first thought they were, but I was wrong.

    Today I pulled up the novelette I was writing on before the course started 'Aptitude', which is one of those in 3rd close. I wanted to see how I judge my writing now, having written the short 'Emergency Stop' in such a differing voice. And I started cutting—which I apparently learned how to do during my slashing of 'Emergency Stop' down to size—and saw how I could write stuff a lot more close than I did, yet still using 3rd close. Despite 'Aptitude' being Genre, and 'Emergency Stop' being Literary. Huh.
     
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  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I like this general approach, of identifying a theme in some way. Though to be useful for me, I'd have to acknowledge the theme's opposite as well. So in the Aladdin example, you're only halfway there if you say the theme is "Prison" (or Imprisonment or Confinement: my wordsmith's brain is going all twitchy with the imprecise use of the terms). It's really Imprisonment/Freedom. Or Imprisonment/Release. That helps me define the characters' status quo and their story goals, both.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  7. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    In between writing assignments for my writing course and assorted critique requirements, I amuse myself with rewriting recent and not-so-recent headlines, adopting them to the needs to my story and composing brief news-synopses as required. It lets me play with words I'd not use (nor think of) in conversation OR writing, but which one of my main characters is so used to that it perpetrates every conversation he has. So I'd better get used to them as well.

    Have been doing this since a few months and it gets easier to reach for the words I need to express myself.
     
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  8. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Examples?
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course, now that the assignment has been completed to everybody's satisfaction, you COULD restore some of what you cut. :) If you think it might add to the general richness of the story, I mean. 800 words is hardly the upper limit for a short story, is it?
     
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  10. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    ... except that the cutting really made the story better. I'd never have believed how much editing out can add to a story.

    After the editing out, I added a few sentences, mainly to add a few details to the mental picture of my characters and make crystal clear what will happen after The End. Final word count is 866.
     
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  11. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    The interterritorial body for cybersecurity has given notice that they are going to discuss placing offensive capabilities in vulnerable networks in territories at risk from civil unrest. Discussed measures include the shutdown of ports and power infrastructures, disabling safety systems, and the ability to distribute basic services.

    Before such measures are taken, a comprehensive situational awareness in critical areas will be compiled and measures taken that adversaries can be contained. Understanding costs and limiting the impact on non-violent parts of the population, as well as cooperation between territories and economic institutions in an operational partnership is crucial.

    These measures should guarantee that authorised actors are able to shut down society and restore calm.
     
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  12. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    :supershock:
     
  13. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    :whistle:
     

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