Yes, that was a pun in the title, though a very simple and obvious one. Groans are appreciated.
Seriously, though, this week we need to talk about the importance of tenses and tense agreement, specifically through the lens of the style of your writing. Now, obviously, keeping your tenses straight when writing is critical. The tenses you use form what could be likened as time-stamps for the actions that are described in the book. When these time-stamps are misused, confusion reigns supreme!
We talk about pacing a lot here in the writer’s kitchen and for good reason. Proper pacing engages the reader and enhances the themes and plot of the story. It picks up the tempo when the drama rises and properly slows to allow the reader to breathe and focus on characterization. Much of what determines good versus bad pacing comes down to the actual content of the book. I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but bear with me!
So let’s kick this off right with some Bad Habit Writing and I think the best way to go is with some classic trope talk. In case you’ve forgotten or you never knew, tropes are common literary devices, similar to the idea of archetypes, that are commonalities through out genres, media types, and so on. As with archetypes, tropes aren’t good or bad; they are tools in the creator’s toolbox. How we use them determines their value.
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s talk about a classic one: Our X Is Like/Not Like Your X!
Today, we finish up (probably) a series of articles and podcasts in relation to my next book, The Songstress Murders, available for pre-order now! Our topic of the moment is exposition, various types of that, and how it relates to genre fiction and world-building!
Let’s say you are writing an action-adventure piece, or an action piece, or really any genre that has a heavy action emphasis (from military sci-fi to a martial arts slugfest). Obviously, you would want to set a fast pace for the plot to match the fast action. The pace should be a driving force, keeping events rolling forward at break-neck speed … or should it?
First, the movie is incredible, well, if you like action movies. This is, at its core, an action flick with all that entails, so if you’re not on-board for high-octane action, you won’t like it. That being said, there’s some surprising depth of story and world-building done here and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
So demands for planing for Mobicon, work for editing clients, and other shenanigans, I regretfully inform you that I won’t have a Starving Review served up today.
However, I present as a substitute some extended thoughts on the ‘strong’ protagonist, male or female, and how to create and think about your creations, alongside examples culled from my own writing. An extension of this Wednesday’s Writing Is A Bad Habit, the audio log takes things deeper than before.
If you enjoy this, please let me know so I can plan to do more of these podcast-style articles in the future!
We bandy around the phrase ‘strong female protagonist’ (SFP for short) quite a bit. Now, this phrase has a lot of meaning to it and is often taken at literal face value, focusing on physical prowess (literal physical strength in one way or the other) instead of the truer, broader meaning. This isn’t necessarily bad, not at all as long as it is handled well (though I prefer the deeper interpretation of strength myself). I bring this thought of physical strength up, though, because it lets us talk about a pair of character tropes closely connected to that and the overall ‘SFP’ discussion: the Action Girl and the Faux Action Girl.
It’s been a while since we’ve sat back and talked about a writing trope or two. With that in mind, let’s take a casual day today and talk about an interesting bit of trope-y-ness: the Noodle Incident. Sometimes known as the Throwaway Backstory Event, a Noodle Incident (NI for the remainder of this article) is some piece of past history a character in a piece refers to, but never elaborates on, usually with the implication that the event was too ridiculous, unbelievable, or over the top to need to be elaborated on. Whatever the reason for doing so, the NI remains a point of untouched history and, in a long series, may be referenced multiple times.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who slaves over the stove in a literary kitchen that there are a million pieces of advice when it comes to description and exposition. With as many stances as there are grains of rice in a full pot, it can be difficult to figure out the absolute best way to go about those elements of writing. Though I have my own opinions (a true middle of the ground approach, to be honest), I think for today we should simply talk about one of the subtle elements of exposition: implication.