Friday, February 10, 2012

Creating Good Conflict Scenes In Your Story

No one likes boring conflict scenes. I mean, a boring anything scene is bad enough, but, by definition, conflict scenes need to be interesting. Since, as we all know, I'm very fond of checklists, I have created two checklists, one for good conflict and one for bad conflict, to help you assess your scenes. (And for me to assess my own.)

Good conflict involves problems that are:
  • external
  • internal
  • significant
  • pressing
  • ones that force your characters to act
  • informative

Bad conflict involves problems that:
  • are shallow
  • can't relate back/ahead to other parts of the story
  • don't move the story forward
  • don't teach us about the characters
  • have obscure or entirely too simple/obvious solutions that leave the reader confused or aggravate

Typically, your scene should start as close to the start of the conflict as possible and pick up pace, then peak closer to the end, leaving room for resolution.

In his book Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern calls scenes like this “Bear at the Door” scenes. As said before, there' s an external problem or trouble:  “Honey, there’s a bear at the door.”  A significant problem:  “Wow, the bear’s huge”.  A pressing problem: “I think the bear’s trying to get in.”  And one that forces character(s) to act:  “Do something!”

What are your strengths and weaknesses with conflict develop? Any tips you want to share?

<3 Gina Blechman

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

4 out of 5 stars

The Day Before is an absolutely adorable book, a heartwarming story with a good message, and, best of all, it has unexpectedly candid and wonderful characters. (And it's written through poetry! Heck to the yeah!) I also really enjoyed that it doesn't rush to the extreme's with its characters. It's easy to make the "bad boy" a bully, or a drug addict, or a pimp or prostitute or super-angsty 'emo kid'. It's just as easy to dramaticize relationships between characters,bringing them to a totally unrealistic and, quite frankly annoying, level of "I met you two seconds ago but I love you" lust. But the MC's in The Day Before are actually realistic and relatable. And the story is still suspenseful even without that gobbledy-gook.

Description: "Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him.  And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last."

<3 Gina Blechman

(P.S. Does anyone know how to spell "gobbledy-gook"?)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Break Anxiety/Procrastination Mode

You're there. At that pivotal scene where lots of big, important, mind-blowing stuff happens that all your readers will love. And everything's set, and everything's awesome can't write it. Maybe you're on your first draft or maybe you're on your twentieth, but there's something about this particular scene, whether it actually is epic or is just the start of something that could be, that keeps you far away from your computer. We've all been there. Those moments when your thought process goes

"Hey, I should really write that scene."
         "Oh look! E-mails I need to send."

"Hey, I should really write that scene."
         "Oh look! Dust on the floor! Let's vacuum!"

"Come on, it's really time to write that scene now."
         "But I have to catch up with my DVR...and I kind of want to bake brownies...and if I make brownies, I'll probably eat one, and then I'll have to brush my teeth, and..."

Yeah. Sound familiar?

Well, recently, I found a way to get around this. Instead of creating an entire scene, which can be quite daunting, just write the dialogue for that scene. No tag lines. No exposition. No setting. Nothing else but talking. Write what feels right, whatever pops into your head that you can imagine the characters saying. As you do this, you will start to see actions and envision the setting, though you will not be writing them down. This way, once you have the dialogue on paper (or on Word), you will probably want to add all the things you've been imagining or will at least be more curious as to what happens next. This should, maybe, possibly, hopefully get the ball rolling.

Does this sound like something you'd be interested in? What types of things do you do to beat your procrastination?