Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Linda Sue Park, Sunday workshop comments continued

Elements of structure include micro process (see immediately below) and macro process (see further below) which grows out of the micro process:
1) grammatical case
~ "I" or "he/she" (rarely "you")
2) point of view (POV)
~ first person: dangers -- difficult to write well, only one person holds the camera, must never step out of character's perspective, hard to transmit information the character takes for granted because it distances the reader from the action
~third person omniscient: all seeing/all aware, every character gets a camera, cameras all over the set held by unseen narrators
~third person limited: only one person holds the camera
~third person limited plus: one character's inner thoughts plus an outside narrator, that character holds the camera, and the narrator has one too (LSP uses it most/A Single Shard)
3) verb tense
~past tense: traditional in the English language (not all languages use tenses) -- a basic tenet of the reader-writer contract
~present tense: grammatically incorrect. Use with caution! (have a compelling reason for breaking the reader-writer contract) Best used for anecdotes, joke-telling, habitual repeated action
4) 'voice'
~authorial voice: this happens over time, after one has accumulated a body of work
authorial voice is different from character voice
~character voice: read aloud to work on authenticity, give character a physical voice different from your own voice, word choice is the writer's tool to make the character voice distinct and believable
~narrative voice: is the voice of the story itself. As you write, in your writing mind, give the narrator a voice.
(Ex: -humor is in the story, not in the narrator's voice. In another story ex: -the narrator's voice can be humorous. Ex: -narrator can be older (a few weeks, years, etc.) than the self the story is about (main character).
In first person, the narrator/character voice are the same.
In third person omniscient, the narrator & character aren't always the same.
The writer can't get a handle on the story until the writer can get the narrator's voice.
5) scenes: the building blocks of fiction
~something is happening, the camera is moving to follow the action or movement
~description and internal monologue or character thoughts are not scenes. (limit their use, they can stall the story) Interior thoughts are not a compelling storytelling device -- limit them to one paragraph only or the reader gets bored. Description and introspection -- the scene isn't moving, nothing is happening. Getting into someone's head is not true to life, only seeing what they do, hearing what they say are true to life.
~a story moves through scenes of progress and impediment toward the quest/goal
YA has more impediment
MG has more balance of progress with impediment

Good scenes should be both interior and exterior movement toward what they want (growth).
One sentence can encapsulate a scene's action. If you can't say it in one sentence, go back and rewrite. Scenes must be progress to goal or impediment.

Subplots are extensions of progress or impediments. Characters move through scenes of progress and impediment.

Climax - main character faces a choice/makes a decision/acts on decision (the highest stakes are the climax) all are written in a series of scenes.

EXERCISE: Write a scene from another character's POV

To begin a story one must have structure, which is the bones of the story:
1) Character/Setting
~To establish a character: character must do or say something to progress or impede. Dialog counts as action.
~Character cannot be divorced from setting
2) Quest
~What does character want? (interior shows emotional growth)(exterior shows change)
3) List of possible scenes
4) Possible resolution
~ Have an idea of what the ending might be (but let the story take you where it wants to go)
MG -- happy/hopeful ending
YA -- ending doesn't have to be happy or hopeful but can be

Common macro structures (not limited to these):
~formal poetics
~free verse (lyrical)
~mixed media (Avi)

When someone is critiquing my story, remind myself that the story is way more important than my feelings.