Monday, August 13, 2007

Fiction Writing: concepts, method

As with most other subjects (including chess), fiction writing is one of chaos. The books and guides lump together fundamental concepts and ideas with trivial and unimportant ones (without clearly specifying which is which), and it's up to the aspiring writer to make sense of it all and put it into a system. (Actually I'm exaggerating a little, the guides differ in quality a lot -- I'll get back to that later.)

My main task for the moment is to identify the central concepts of storytelling and then make them come to life by tying them to those concretes that they are an abstraction of. And that last part I will do by making identifications as I watch TV shows. After all, that's what being a fiction writer is all about: beer, peanuts and TV.

Right now some of the stuff I keep explicit track of while watching is:

conflicts, obstacles (inner, outer)
characters purposes (what they want)
resolution of conflicts
set-pieces (often a confrontation of some kind)

I often also try to explain to myself the purpose of various scenes, and ask myself things like what would happen if it was removed (a well written piece shouldn't have any scenes that can be removed without suffering in some way.)

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