Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Blog Address!

I shortened the address for this blog.  So it changed from to

Plus I extended the comment option to Google account owners instead of blogspot members.

Beauty in the Familiar

When I edit a story, (like my Machine of Death entry) I refer to Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. I refer to it like a checklist of ways to strengthen your writing. The book works for any form of written material.

One concept is to describe something ordinary and familiar as extraordinary.  "...[D]efamiliarization, a hopeless word that describes the process by which an author takes the familiar and makes it strange." Specific details can make the object seem unfamiliar to reader either because of one of the following:
*had a vague image when they read the object's name,
*have not seen the object in person (maybe just on TV),
*or have not notice the object's qualities before.

Here's a microphoto of grains of sand:

See how the familiar can become extraordinary and unfamiliar?  I don't mean for you to put everything under a microscope but think of what objects we overlook and what details make that object.

For more about the photo, click here.

Finished The Hunger Games

I finished the first book of The Hunger Games last week.  It has a dystopic setting, but the story's told as an action adventure. I recommend the book for both readers and writers. =)

In my second story-writing class, I needed more conflicts for the character. The Hunger Games constantly has conflict, which keeps the story going and gives the character Katniss many decisions to make. The book is now an example for me.

I started reading one chapter at a time until some point in the game. I was then reading three chapters at a time. One day as I cleaned my room, I read a section after each time I put something away. I read even before an interview.

When I had three chapters left, I rationed them again. Willy Wonka's reaction to Augustus Gloop's situation is a great way to describe the thrill of reading The Hunger Games:
"The suspense is terrible. I hope it'll last." 
(The line is originally from 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

Here's an interesting passage from chapter 13 (Small SPOILER):
Where are the Gamermakers driving me? ...To a whole new terrain filled with new dangers? I had just found a few hours of peace at the pond when this attack happened. ...The wall of fire must have an end and it won't burn indefinitely.  Not because the Gamemakers couldn't keep it fueled but because, again, that would invite accusations of boredom from the audience.
Think of a Gamermaker as a writer and the audience as the story's actual audience (Meta!). Katniss is then questioning the writer's direction. Readers would have been bored if Katniss got to rest a whole day at this moment. They want the story to keep moving.

She's also alone at that moment so just like the Gamemakers, both writer and reader want her to interact with the other characters.  We feel sorry for her pain but back to danger and love! I'm curious if the author, Suzanne Collins, intended to draw attention to the reader's self by mentioning an audience. How much pain and drama did you wish upon Katniss and Peeta?

The quoted section also shows writers that they drive their characters into an adventure. Give them opportunities to make decisions and grow. Character growth gives your readers more than suspense and entertainment.

In addition, writers have to push their characters around to view more of the setting and society. Like pushing a cameraman around.  You push to capture more, but the character or narrator is the one recording details.

How was the suspense for you?