thewritingcafe

amandaonwriting:

Jeffrey Archer spends three years plotting. Stephen King says he doesn’t plot. John Grisham uses a master plot formula. Whichever way works for you, you still have to get from scene one to scene 60. The question is how? The easy answer is by writing. No sh*t, right? Is that all?

I have mentioned before that I like to plan, but I don’t do much more than an outline. In this post, Why Writers Should Always Make a Scene, I explained why I list my scenes and how I keep track. My first outline has around 20 scenes. 

Sometimes I stare at the list all day and think I have exhausted all the avenues. I think this story is dead and I suck. I am convinced there is not one single scenario I can add, or worse, I start improvising 40 extra scenes because I have to and that becomes forced. When I start adding scenes simply to make up numbers I am going to write myself into trouble.

What can I do? Once the tears have dried and the Xanax has kicked in, I’ll go back and think about what I want to do. 

First, I will confirm my story goal. 
Second, I check that every scene I already have has a goal. The scene goal should be either to move my protagonist closer or further from the story goal. The scenes that are forced will fall away.
Third, I will have fewer scenes. Bad, right? Not really. Try this. I will make sure I am utilising my existing scenes. I have to make the most of them. 

The Cell Phone Reaction

Let’s say my protagonist is having a lovely afternoon. She has just solved a difficult work problem. She left early to celebrate and is on her way home when her phone dies. The battery is flat.

Think of three reactions she could have: 

  1. She can ignore it. Nothing is urgent. She is happy to have a tech-free afternoon. Who is desperate to get hold of her?
  2. She can stop and buy a charger for her car. 
  3. She can stop at her best friend’s house for a chat and use her charger. 

Now think of three scenarios that can happen if:

She ignores it: 
a) Her boss is calling to say her plan failed. He can’t get hold of her so her pushy colleague takes over. 
b) Her husband was in an accident, he called to say goodbye and she missed his final words.
c) Her mother freaks out when she can’t get hold of her and she arrives home to find her house inundated by cops and her hysterical mother directing the search for her mangled body. 

She buys a charger: 
a) She runs into an ex-boyfriend at the store. They go for a drink.
b) She sees her husband walking in with another woman. They are very cosy. 
c) The store she is in is robbed and she is taken hostage. 

She visits her BFF’s house:
a) She arrives at her friend’s house to find her husband’s car in her friend’s drive way. Why is he here?
b) Her friend is drunk at 3pm. 
c) Her friend isn’t there, but she finds her friend’s neighbour snooping around the back of the house.

Not all of scenarios are going to work for your story, but one or two should add to your plot. Now improvise three more scenarios for the ones you chose. Look at how far a dead cell phone can go.

As writers we introduce and add as we go along. Sometimes we should stop and look at what we have and consider what we can use again. A dead cell phone can go from an annoying inconvenience to a sub-plot.

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

propertyofzack

Idiot, Revisited

propertyofzack:

image

by Jeffrey Webb, edited by Erik van Rheenen

The thing about the Jesus of Suburbia is that he doesn’t start out as a nihilist— he starts out bored. Victimized by his broken home and his own peculiar slice of suburban hellscape, sedated and titillated by the alternating lows and highs of television and Ritalin, the “son of Rage and Love” flees the “land of make believe [that] don’t believe” to the Big City in a Sartrean search for meaning. All set to alternating windmilled guitars and soft-keyed interludes, multi-layered harmonies and fury-fueled shrieks. By the end of the nine-minute, Pete-Townshend-on-speed anthem that is the opera’s introduction, Billie Joe Armstrong has shown that anarchy begins at home, and apathy is its gateway drug.

The story that follows—the story of Green Day’s 2004 magnumopus, American Idiot—is a bildungsroman that’s equal parts Joseph Campbell and J.D. Salinger, and all the tension that pairing entails: hero (whiny jerk?) leaves home, faces adversity (but not real adversity?), and returns home redeemed (a total failure?). Any attempt to appraise its merits thus acts as a Rorschach test of one’s aesthetic gestalt. The JoS’s quest is either inspiring or entitled, epic or annoying. Given the ubiquity of the maturation theme, and the delusions of grandeur that usually accompany so-called rock operas, it’s a story that should be overly affected, passé.  Instead, ten years later, somehow, miraculously, it still pulses, snarls, demands attention. Why?

The reason is not because the album is one of the great protest rock records of all time, though it certainly is that. It’s difficult for teenagers now to imagine the swelling of indignant rage Americans felt after September 11th, rage that metastasized into a kind of dyspeptic autoimmune disorder that we voted upon ourselves: the Patriot Act, whack-a-mole adventures in the Middle East, surrealist color-coded threat levels that shifted like a terrorism mood ring. So it’s difficult for those teenagers —hell, it’s difficult for the rest of us — to remember how subversive it was in 2004 for a band to sneer at our self-righteousness, to stand athwart the military-media complex, yelling, “stop.”

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agnesvardas

For Frances, it was a point of pride at one point that she was undateable. This feeling that she didn’t fit into hetero-normative structures, that she wasn’t able to settle down, and no man would be able to handle her.  She thought that she and her friend were like that and that they would grow old together and be spinsters or something.  As the movie goes on, she realizes that she doesn’t want to be left out of that aspect of life.  I don’t think she becomes worried about it so much as there’s just a moment where she sees a man, Benji (Michael Zegen), who she could have probably dated, with another girl, and she thinks, “Everybody is moving on and coupling off and doing these things, and I haven’t done it and maybe that was the wrong choice.”  For her, it’s more about that.

Greta Gerwig

thepeoplesrecord

thepeoplesrecord:

Columbia student will carry her mattress until her rapist exits school
September 2, 2014

While most students at Columbia University will spend the first day of classes carrying backpacks and books, Emma Sulkowicz will start her semester on Tuesday with a far heavier burden. The senior plans on carrying an extra-long, twin-size mattress across the quad and through each New York City building – to every class, every day – until the man she says raped her moves off campus.

“I was raped in my own bed,” Sulkowicz told me the other day, as she was gearing up to head back to school in this, the year American colleges are finally, supposedly, ready to do something about sexual assault. “I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.”

Sulkowicz is one of three women who made complaints to Columbia against the same fellow senior, who was found “not responsible” in all three cases. She also filed a police report, but Sulkowicz was treated abysmally – by the cops, and by a Columbia disciplinary panel so uneducated about the scourge of campus violence that one panelist asked how it was possible to be anally raped without lubrication.

So Sulkowicz joined a federal complaint in April over Columbia’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases, and she will hoist that mattress on her shoulders as part savvy activism, part performance art. “The administration can end the piece, by expelling him,” she says, “or he can, by leaving campus.”

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As painful as I know the constant reminder of attending school with her rapist must be, I’m glad she won’t be the only one forced to remember. I hope the rapist drops out immediately…or better yet, I hope he faces the justice he deserves. 

lostinurbanism
lostinurbanism:

Robert Taylor Homes; Terrell elementary school is the grey building on the bottom right-hand side.

"In 1987 I spent eight months attending Mary C Terrell elementary school on the South Side of Chicago. The school building was situated on the grounds of what was at one time America’s largest public housing facility (or project), the Robert Taylor Homes. This collection of 28 identical, 16-story high-rise buildings contained almost 4,500 apartments housing 27,000 people when full. It stretched for four miles along the city’s state street." — Morgan Quaintance. 

lostinurbanism:

Robert Taylor Homes; Terrell elementary school is the grey building on the bottom right-hand side.

"In 1987 I spent eight months attending Mary C Terrell elementary school on the South Side of Chicago. The school building was situated on the grounds of what was at one time America’s largest public housing facility (or project), the Robert Taylor Homes. This collection of 28 identical, 16-story high-rise buildings contained almost 4,500 apartments housing 27,000 people when full. It stretched for four miles along the city’s state street." — Morgan Quaintance.