Saturday, November 29, 2008

Applying What You've Learned

'River of Bones' has powered past 9000 words and I've had another chance to apply some of my own writing lessons to it. The story is expanding and evolving and I've added in some scenes with the bad guys. Necessarily then, they've needed to become more than knife sponges for the hero. Instead of making them all sympathetic with back stories of their own and mothers who love them, I decided to add conflict amongst them. I changed them into a band of people who are not really working together but rather are cautiously allied for potential mutual gain. There's a big difference in the motivations now. This all goes back to a lesson about interesting writing coming from adding conflict. Typically, we genre writers think of that as more danger for the hero. I thought it might be interesting to add some danger to the villains that wasn't just coming from the edge of the hero's weapons.

But really, this all stems from the fact that I needed scenes to weave between the hero's journey that is the main story. Non-stop narrative from the hero's point of view gets a little boring. Switching around and following different characters makes for much more engaging reading. Thus the birth of the B-story.


NewGuyDave said...

Very interesting. *twirls mustache*

I've been looking at the word count per character of my novel, and much of it is in the protagonists POVs. I've already replaced some disposable knife sponges with summoned baddies that can whisk away to come back and fight another day.

You're certainly on to something about conflict within the villains. The problem I find with this is staying away from the cliched Baddie A coming down on Baddie B for doing a poor job. I think what you've talked about sounds much better.

Jeff Draper said...

A lot of great stories use the tension amongst the bad guys for great effect. It is most often used to make the chief villain more sympathetic and direct our hatred towards the evil lieutenants. I've seen it in a couple of Bond movies and I just recently watched 'The Rock' with Nic Cage where it was used brilliantly.

von Darkmoor said...

"knife sponges" - I likey.

It's been interesting and fun to follow your monologue on this story, Jeff. I look forward to actually reading it in print someday - see if it lives up to its advance billing. :)

P.S. You're just now seeing The Rock?

Jeff Draper said...

I've seen The Rock about a half dozen times. It just happened to be on one of our movie channels the other day.

'Knife sponges' is an adaptation of a term some Marine Corps pilots once used. They called the F-4 Phantom a SAM sponge. Not a good thing in a modern combat zone.