Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Marriage Survives a Decapitation

Marriage Survives a Decapitation ...

Before you scroll down take a minute to brainstorm some ideas on what the story is behind that headline. Unlike the New York Times, you're not limited to reality. It opens up all sorts of possibilities.

And yet ... if you are limited to reality, what could the story be? Limitations can create even greater exercise for the brain.


If you're ready for the teaser intro to the article, scroll past the Black Knight Kitty, who managed to lose everything but his head.

"She is a retired New York City correction officer with a job at a security firm. He is a convicted drug dealer from Brooklyn who has admitted and denied — in that order — cutting off a stranger’s head with a chain saw. Nobody said marriage would be easy."

The rest of the article is at Marriage Survives Decapitation. The article brings the headline down into the realm of possible and yet still maintains that level of, "You can't make this stuff up!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jar Jar Re-Jarred

Imagine you could replace Jar Jar in Star Wars with another comic relief character. Write the scene where Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi first meet him or her. Then their escape from the Federation troops up through meeting with Queen Amidala in Theed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

12 Tips on Creating an Engaging Flawed Hero

Stock by cherrybomb-81

12 Tips on Creating an Engaging Flawed Hero

  1. Flawed — But not just any flaw. A flaw that the reader can see prevents her from getting what she needs to be a better person. Instantly you've created a problem the reader hopes the Hero will be able to solve.

  2. Passionate about what they do — It's often why villains are so appealing: they love what they do! Even if he's selfishly motivated to solve a problem, if he's passionate, he's engaging. Like Sherlock and House.

  3. An admirable value — Duty, honor, dedication to family. There's something to admire amidst the thorns.

  4. Compassion towards those weaker — also called "Save the cat" or "Pet the dog."

  5. Important to someone or something else — a flower in an abandoned lot, a broken winged bird, a dying language, a small child.

  6. "Grit" — no matter the obstacle, she's determined.

  7. "Wit" — Humor that, though barbed, is insightful not mean spirited.

  8. "It"* — sex appeal, charm.

  9. Undeserved misfortune** — Not just misfortune but undeserved. The Hero isn't as bad as life is treating him.

  10. Vulnerable but determined not to let others see weakness — Others may mistake this as pretense, until the Hero's handicap or misfortune is revealed.

  11. Circumstances that make unpleasant behavior understandable — Release from prison, death of a loved one.

  12. Quirk — What is it about quirks that humanizes people? It also makes the character more memorable.

© Joyce Fetteroll 2012

* "Grit, wit and it." James Scott Bell, The Art of War for Writers.
** "Undeserved misfortune." Jeffrey Alan Schechter, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story!

Royal death

Royal death

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Voices from the past

Picture your character growing up hearing one of these phrases until it has become truth to them. Holding this truth has allowed them to get what they wanted in life, but now it feels like there's something missing. They need something more, but don't know what it is.

How has it shaped their life? Their choice of profession? Friends? Spouse?

Where and what has it gotten them in life?

What is missing? What opportunity might spark their interest to step out of their comfortable life?"

Write the opening scene. (It doesn't, of course, need to be contemporary. Any genre you want.)

"Bigger is better."
"You are just like your (brother, mother, etc)."
"Why can't you be smart like .."
"Don't fight."
"It's all just luck."
"Only weak people forgive."
"Work hard and you deserve the best."
"Quitters never win and winners never quit."
"Don't waste money on frivolous things."
"Don't show your pain."
"Family comes first."
"You won't have any friends if you are different."
"For a smart person you have no common sense."
"We are all sinners."

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dead end

Celesta is the first vampire to rise to fame for real talent, not just for being a vampire. But now she's famous for being dead. Again. For reals this time.

But who did it? Was she killed for being the person she is or for being a vampire?

Was it her manager who was in love with her?

Was it her mother who never could accept her becoming a vampire?

Was it her brother who wanted her to turn him into a vampire?

Was it the fan who had been sending her increasingly disturbing messages and packages.

Was it someone else?