whatswrong

What’s Always Wrong With Books (And Movies)?

She got off the phone with just a single goodbye.
The security guard put up a hell of a fight.
After being knocked out cold in each the last five chapters, the protagonist feels pretty good.

Juliet and Jon talk about those things that movies and books get wrong—spurred on by several choice examples from a recent Reddit discussion. Instead of falling in one of the usual traps, what can the writer to avoid the traps?

We read a few posts from this discussion on Reddit: What is always depicted wrong in movies?
By SadGruffman
Security guards.
I’m not just some mindless drone or hurdle you need to shoot in the back of the head without question of strangle then drag off camera.
I’m an underpaid lower class fuck and I’ll just give you my god damn radio at the first sign of trouble. In fact, you’ve never met a hostage so willing to participate in your shenanigans.

 

By RainyDayNinja
No one ever asks how to spell things.
Detective (on the phone): “We’ve ID’d the victim, and I need you to search her phone records. Her name is Brittney Mbeza Delacroix.”
Guy at computer: [types it in flawlessly] Got it.
By GingerbreadHouses
Mosts just hang up without saying “good-bye.”
“Ok, see you.”
“Byebye.”
“Bye”
“Bye”
“Love you.”
“Love you too, bye”
“B-bye”
“Bye”
Jon mentioned YA author, Sarah Dessen. Her book Saint Anything is a good example of some of her dialogue techniques.
ellipsis

Hi. I’m a writer. I have an ellipsis problem…

Sometimes a writer will repeat a comfortable device…
Again…
And again…
And again…
What is happening and why?

Juliet and Jon examine a trap that Jon recently fell into—the dreaded ellipsis. Why would that happen? And what to look out for when writing…

 

Book mentioned in the show (Amazon Links. Click and help support the show!):

Gone Girl

Saint Anything

The Great Gatsby (From Freebooks.com)

Luis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of Night

to_outline

To Outline or Not to Outline

Almost as old as time itself is the question:
Should I outline my novel or just wing it?
Jon and Juliet suggest that the answer to this ancient mystery is: Yes!

Jon discusses his experience trying an outlining system described in Libby Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. Amazon link.

Jon talks what worked, what didn’t, and where he is now. Juliet offers the editorial perspective having seen both authors who were heavy outliners and others who wrote by the seat of their pants.

comealive

Five Things to Make Your Characters Come ALIVE!

The other day, Jon saw an okay article about character building, which listed such things as:

1 Where does your character live?
2 Where is your character from?
3 How old is your character?
4 What is your character called?
etc.

These are fine to start. But what can add that extra spark?

Jon’s list is:

1. What are the intensifiers your character uses? And please know why. (Example: The guy at the hardware store says Super Duper. Not ironically.)

2. What is your character’s secret? (Example: Has a brother in a mental institution. Who the character took a lot of money from.)

3. What is your character’s three main t emotions? (Example: Fear. Panic. Exhaustion.)

4. What are two of their quirks? (Example: They have a whole deal for eating French Fries.)

5. What is your character’s sense of humor? Do they do puns? What about making fun of others? Something more than the usual scarcasm in so many novels.

slumgullion

Jonathan Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Juliet and Jon play a word game based on the fantastic internet writing resource that is Jonathan Green’s Dictionary of Slang.

Green’s Dictionary of Slang is the largest historical dictionary of English slang. Written by Jonathon Green over 17 years from 1993, it reached the printed page in 2010 in a three-volume set containing nearly 100,000 entries supported by over 400,000 citations from c. ad 1000 to the present day. The main focus of the dictionary is the coverage of over 500 years of slang from c. 1500 onwards.
The printed version of the dictionary received the Dartmouth Medal for outstanding works of reference from the American Library Association in 2012; fellow recipients include the Dictionary of American Regional English, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. It has been hailed by the American New York Times as ‘the pièce de résistance of English slang studies’ and by the British Sunday Times as ‘a stupendous achievement, in range, meticulous scholarship, and not least entertainment value’.

https://greensdictofslang.com/

Juliet mentions timeline of relationship words:
feedback

Our Feedback to the Feedback

We address a question and a comment from listeners.

1. From listener Christian—I’d be interested in hearing what you guys think of Heilein’s rules for writing (only 5, not 20). Not so much the first two, but the last three.
http://www.goodreads.com/…/421667-heinlein-s-rules-for…
Rule One: You Must Write
Rule Two: Finish What Your Start
Rule Three: You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order
Rule Four: You Must Put Your Story on the Market
Rule Five: You Must Keep it on the Market until it has Sold
― Robert A. Heinlein
2. Listner Ian, who isn’t a writer, offers some surprising perspective.
We also get onto a tangent along the way about the name of the podcast. One of Jon’s favorite Vladimir Nobokov novels is Despair. (Link Amazon.)

loom_is_done

Ten Years To Finish A Book

We talked about movies and TV.
We talked about how Jon finished his third novel.
We mentioned that it took ten years.
We talked about the difference rewriting makes.
We talked about the business of writing.
We talked about how late in the process major details are figured out.
We talked about what it takes to take a book from good to great.
We talked about metaphors for editing.

stephenking3

Stephen King’s 20 Writing Rules Reconsidered – Part 3

This is the final, part three, of our shows on Stephen King’s writing advice.

We consider these points:

Find the whole article here:

8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second to least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

9. Turn off the TV. “Most exercise facilities are now equipped with TVs, but TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs. If you feel you must have the news analyst blowhard on CNN while you exercise, or the stock market blowhards on MSNBC, or the sports blowhards on ESPN, it’s time for you to question how serious you really are about becoming a writer. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keigh Obermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”

10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”

11. There are two secrets to success. “When I’m asked for ‘the secret of my success’ (an absurd idea, that, but impossible to get away from), I sometimes say there are two: I stayed physically healthy, and I stayed married. It’s a good answer because it makes the question go away, and because there is an element of truth in it. The combination of a healthy body and a stable relationship with a self reliant woman who takes zero shit from me or anyone else has made the continuity of my working life possible. And I believe the converse is also true: that my writing and the pleasure I take in it has contributed to the stability of my health and my home life.”

12. Write one word at a time. “A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

13. Eliminate distraction. “There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”

 

stephenking2

Stephen King’s 20 Writing Rules Reconsidered – Part 2

This is part two of our giant three-part show on Stephen King’s writing advice.

We consider these points:

Find the whole article here:

14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what the writer is doing may seem. You can’t aim a book like a cruise missile, in other words. People who decide to make a fortune writing lik John Grisham or Tom Clancy produce nothing but pale imitations, by and large, because vocabulary is not the same thing as feeling and plot is light years from the truth as it is understood by the mind and the heart.”

15. Dig. “When, during the course of an interview for The New Yorker, I told the interviewer (Mark Singer) that I believed stories are found things, like fossils in the ground, he said that he didn’t believe me. I replied that that was fine, as long as he believed that I believe it. And I do. Stories aren’t souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.”

16. Take a break. “If you’ve never done it before, you’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It’s yours, you’ll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps. This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings that it is to kill your own.”

17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your ecgocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”

18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “If you do need to do research because parts of your story deal with things about which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That’s where research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it. You may be entranced with what you’re learning about the flesh-eating bacteria, the sewer system of New York, or the I.Q. potential of collie pups, but your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story.”

19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Faulkner learned his trade while working in the Oxford, Mississippi post office. Other writers have learned the basics while serving in the Navy, working in steel mills or doing time in America’s finer crossbar hotels. I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”