One More Double Entry… Almost

BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/06/15
Prompt from Cheryl: Is there a section of your novel that you’re struggling with? Maybe it isn’t working, but you can’t understand why. Try this: without looking at the original, rewrite the scene using only single syllable words. By doing this, you get rid of the fancy words, the pretty phrases. Instead, you focus on what’s really happening. Sometimes we fall so in love with our words that we lose sight of what’s actually happening in our story. This can help fix that.

YES! I DID IT! (Well . . . sort of . . . I’ll explain at the end.) Opening scene with Wyndell and Mum in StoonSaga: The Riddle of Griffin Ridge. To find a story with pieces I’m struggling with, I had to go back to StoonSaga (I’m not far enough into the new story with Lacklea to have something be really “problematic”, other than the fact that I don’t know my story yet.) My opening for StoonSaga has always been problematic: . . . one of the HARDEST exercises I’ve ever tried (somewhat truncated):

Mum had stowed the bag of flour ‘neath the steps to the keep, but she knew there was a mess when she saw the faint foot prints on steps which led up out of the keep.

“NOW, what’s he up to?” She loosed the wire, wrapped from door jamb to wood post in the wall, and let the door creak ope’. Foot prints on the five steps were more white than the ones out front.

“Wynd?” No sound. No laugh. No snort.

“If that flour is all gone, we’ll have none to break our fast come morn.”

It’s true, this is somewhat simplified . . . by coming up with one syllable words. BUT, in my time period (country folk in a long‑gone era —  15th or 16th century — AND the fact I’m writing fantasy — this exercise did little to make the language more plain: less “fancy” words, “pretty” phrases . . . had to concentrate on 1 syllable, 1 syllable, 1 syllable . . . had to shorten many . . . words normally . . . of 2 syllables, like “beneath” to “neath” — a legitimate word in my “world” — likewise with “open” as “ope’ “. This only increased the feel of a bygone era — good . . . but it left words you might only see in Shakespeare or even Chaucer (“fancy”? “pretty”?) . . . still, an interesting experiment, though . . . 1 syllable words are . . . not the only key to keeping out that which sounds . . . “fancy” or “pretty”. I’ll need to find another way to accomplish the same thing . . . but it’s not a waste of time — it gave me a new place to start the action, when my MC was much younger. This opens up dialogue between the now, mostly grown MC and his grandmother, and can reveal much about his character. If you are writing contemporary, I think this might be a . . . more useful technique to getting to the root of your problem with a particular part or scene.

BB’s (possibly stolen) PROMPT for 04/07/15 ‑ from Cheryl
Sometimes we put our character in a situation when they really need a complication. A situation is self‑contained, and there’s only one way out. A complication opens up to more possibilities.

Think about Pixar’s The Incredibles. We start out with Mr. Incredible trying to get to his wedding on time. Interesting situation, sure, but just a situation. Either he’ll get there or he won’t. Then there’s a complication: a suicidal jumper. Mr. Incredible saves the man, but encounters a new complication — a burglary in progress. As he deals with that, another complication arises when a young fan interferes. Through the complications, Mr. Incredible is repeatedly forced to act. His desires come to light. The stakes are raised the later it gets. The plot thickens when his young fan grows to resent him. The situation might be the important part of the plot, but it is the complications that give our character depth and set the story in motion.

Take a look at the outline of your novel. Are there situations where there could be complications? (I’ll need to fall back again on my StoonSaga story instead of my new one with Lacklea.)

YES! I DID IT! (truncated again): Paired situations with several complications throughout

Situation: Poppy, Wyndell’s father, has caught the DisEase which is decimating their land — ticking clock?

What complications could come up?

  • He could die
  • Mum could get it
  • Wyndell could get it
  • Wyndell, angry at Poppy’s condition, takes it out on everyone. How long has Poppy had it? How/why would he be idle for some length of time? . . .

Situation: Leadership of the Province is in jeopardy because of Poppy’s illness.

What complications could come up?

  • Chantume could take over
  • FullDark could win/attack
  • Not enough people left
  • Townspeople: fights, stealing, anger, resentment; attacks on Pod’s family

Situation: Mum and Poppy get in an argument about Wyndell.

What complications could come up?

  • Wyndell could run away
  • Wyndell could leave with Pod’s family ‑ hides in wagon, turned back by Pod’s father
  • Wydell could attack one or the other in trying to protect either one . . .

Situation: Young people get to know their special “skill” at about Wyndell’s age, but he still has no inkling of what it might be.

What complications could come up?

  • He hasn’t noticed the hints that are all around: water, metals, ELEMENTS
  • The supposed “skills” seem to ordinary and/or useless as “real” help . . .

Situation: Wyndell finds out that his best friend, Pod, is leaving the Precinct with his family, just as so many others have done.

What complications could come up?

  • Wyndell could leave with them
  • He could try to send Poppy with them for possible help with the DisEase
  • Mum could go with them, and talk Pod’s grandmother into going as well

(Feel free to re‑use my prompts, modified to YOUR specifications ‑‑‑ I “stole” them too from Carol Lynch Williams, AnnDeeCanDee, Cheryl, The ABC Writers Guild and others . . . )

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