Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Show me the Story

It's an odd thing, to have a dream. Here I am, an engineer in a Visteon plant in the middle of some of the worst years in U.S. automotive history, and I'm thinking about My Book. I think I'll actually use that as a title some day—My Book. Every minute of the day I'm plotting, having conversations with my characters, or (forbid) actually writing. Chances are I'll never get rich off my novels or even make enough to quit my day job, but it's so all consuming. I think that's the way God intended it. He never wanted us to set our goals according to a certain income level. We set them according to the gifts and plans He places in our hearts. Unfortunately, we often go after the money before responding to the gift. That puts us at odds with ourselves, our employers, our families, and especially with Him.

I don't hate my job. Don't get me wrong. But it actually becomes a hindrance to my writing goals. That silly from a worldly sense. If you're making money and living in a big house, you 've achieved success—right? But it ain't so. A Christian knows that. A Christian on fire with the dreams God has placed on his heart knows it better than anyone.

Okay, I have to stop doing whatever it is I'm doing on this blog. I promised, several postings ago, that I'd talk about "Story" and whatever other writing topics I come up with. My loyal readers (Dineen and Gina) expect it. So here's the latest revelation (I'll have better revelations when I do this with the book right beside me):

According to "Story," each scene in your book or screenplay should involved a reversal of values. That seems mighty tough at first, but it begins to clear up when you get right to it. If you're character feels safe and secure at the beginning of the scene, he or she should feel unsafe or frightened at the end. It can be more subtle than that. Your character can go from restlessness to peace, from ignorant about something to enlightened. I think we've heard this stated differently in the past. If you have a scene, SOMETHING must happen. First, there must be action. No action, no scene. Usually, where there's action, something changes. If you do like I do and list out your scenes on a spreadsheet, it's easy to spot the one's where nothing really changes. Praise God for the computer, we just delete that line, preferably before we've written the scene.

Another point in "Story" that I'm coming to grips with is the idea of "seeing" the scene as it would play out on a stage. That's the beauty of studying a book directed at screenwriters. They don’t have a choice. There is no narrative in a movie or play, unless it's a really cheesy film noir movie (sorry, I know they're supposed to be classics, but oh please, keep the writer out of the movie!) By keeping the "stage" in my mind while writing, I find it much easier to keep the backstory out of the narrative form. No easy way out.
Show me the story!


Gina Holmes said...

Put your story "on stage" was some of the best advice I ever received. Telling instead of showing is the number one error of new writers. Was for me and I still fall into sometimes and must have my knuckles rapped by by crit partners. Thanks, Ron.

Robin Cynclair said...

Gee, Ron, you can relate to that, can't you? The knuckle-rapping? LOL