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muthmaniac
08-05-2003, 07:03 PM
Okay, as in a lot of stories, I am writing one where the main characters are introduced on a night out. As of now, it's in a restaurant and they're talking about movies and other "Pop Culture" things. Having originally written the story a couple years ago, I now feel that the conversation is cliché and overdone. So, I wrote a new conversation that is a little more philosophical, I guess would be the term. But, this doesn't ring true to me, because I'm not that deep of a person. So, I started thinking that maybe my block was in the setting. Because having the characters in a restaurant is pretty well used as well in stories. So, now I've thought of having them say driving at the end of a night out or something.

Anyway, the question is:

If you're able to understand the setup that I tried to explain above, what are some suggestions for making this play out both realistically and yet, not trite?

I mean we all sit around and talk about movies, or women/guys, but it just seems to have hit a peak now in our society and I don't want to fall into that vein.

Thanks.

-John

Nirsus
08-05-2003, 08:05 PM
Originally posted by muthmaniac


Anyway, the question is:

If you're able to understand the setup that I tried to explain above, what are some suggestions for making this play out both realistically and yet, not trite?

I mean we all sit around and talk about movies, or women/guys, but it just seems to have hit a peak now in our society and I don't want to fall into that vein.


Try a setting that is just as interesting or even more interesing than your characters. Instead of a restaurant maybe an amusement park or at some sporting event, or even a movie. Settings like these would make conversation more difficult but then we get to see how determined the characters are to talk to each other. But if such a distracting setting is too much maybe try an airplane or car trip, a setting where there are distractions but they are only momentary.
All of these settings can become characters themselves. They interact with the main characters or entertain the readers. Even influence to the conversations:

"That fat guy looks like he's going to have a heart attack. I wonder if he read the warning signs while he was in line for this roller coaster?"

Interesting settings can make your dialog more interesting.

Nirsus

Vendetta
08-05-2003, 11:15 PM
Don't force anything. Figure out what is important about their meeting, why did they start talking, what brought them together and what kept them from just nodding at eachother and going their own merry way. Motivation is everything. You can do a corny, cheesy sceen in a diner if you have the motivation solid and no one will care. When you fail to make this meaningful, that is when people will see through it and start asking questions about where they are or how campy the dialogue is.

When I did theatre and acted, the thing I hated THE most was writing out my "motivation" behind every single #$%#$@$#%#$%$)(_*)#(&(*&#R#$#@^%#$# line I had in the play... As terrible as that was, it really helps you to "get into the head" of the character and know what he/she will say and why. It has been rather beneficial to me since I took up writing.

shipp
08-05-2003, 11:25 PM
I agree with the responses prior. I would only add maybe one other point: write for you. You seem to be to interested in what other people are going to think about what you're writing. **** everyone else. If it sounds good to you and it's portraying properly what you want to portray, let the people that like it come to you. They're out there and they will. Granted, I understand that we come here because we're looking for advice/criticism/what have you. However, none of us can make you like something if you're not happy with it.

banshee
08-06-2003, 03:00 AM
I agree with the others. If the premise (is that how u spell it? LOL) is solid, the setting just leads off into it and it b/c a strong story!

good luck with it, dont be shy posting your work here either!

:D

later days
B

beejunk
08-07-2003, 07:20 PM
I also agree with what everyone has written. I might emphasize that you need to COMPLETELY understand how your characters think. I find that if I really have a grasp on where a character is coming from, dialogue just flows write from the pen, er, keyboard.

I'd also like to add a little to what Trismus said about writing for yourself. This is good, but there's a famous quote (I'm not sure who said it originally, but I had read it in a Vonnegut interview) that says every great writer writes for only one other person. In the case of the previously mentioned intereview, Kurt Vonnegut says he always writes for his sister. This is also more or less true in my case. (I write or my sister, that is.) You'd actually be pretty amazed at the focus and coherency this will bring to your style. So definately write for yourself, but try to also visualize writing for one other person.

Nirsus
08-07-2003, 09:33 PM
Originally posted by Vendetta
When I did theatre and acted, the thing I hated THE most was writing out my "motivation" behind every single #$%#$@$#%#$%$)(_*)#(&(*&#R#$#@^%#$# line I had in the play... As terrible as that was, it really helps you to "get into the head" of the character and know what he/she will say and why. It has been rather beneficial to me since I took up writing.

Yeah, you have to know the people you're writing-- what they would do or how they would react in any given situation.

Do you (anyone) write out motivations for your characters when you write?

I do a little motivation write up including: what a character wants, why they want it, and what obstacles will get in the way. It definitely helps me get into the minds of my characters.

Nirsus

mwhite
08-07-2003, 09:43 PM
I understand the question, but I don't agree with the premise of it. Maybe it makes me a bad writer, but I really don't pay any attention to things like this in my writing...

shipp
08-07-2003, 10:25 PM
Originally posted by mwhite
I understand the question, but I don't agree with the premise of it. Maybe it makes me a bad writer, but I really don't pay any attention to things like this in my writing...

I'm not saying you're a bad writer (having a different approach doesn't make you a bad writer), however I don't see how you cannot take things like setting/environment into account when you're writing.

muthmaniac
08-07-2003, 11:22 PM
Thanks folks!

WOW! The Writer's Desk can be useful!! :)

Anyway, I think that I came to the conclusion and figured it out. Thanks to all, again.

I do want to respond to a few issues brought up though.

1. "Writing for myself" - I totally agree with this sentiment, and I have to honestly say, I don't know how you would write for anyone else. (At least for someone that you don't intimately know like a brother or a wife.) But, for myself, I look at certain things that I write and just see that it's been done before - better - and for the sake of my own story I don't want to be able to compare it to anyone else's work. I guess I'm just a little tough on myself.

2. What Marcus said, about not agreeing with the premise of the question - I can see how a writer, especially one that I know is as good as you are, can let these things come naturally and not even think about the little details. But, not everyone has that skill or talent. I appreciate you dropping in and giving two cents, but I would think that there would have at least been more for you to add than that! :)

3. Motivations for characters - Again, not everyone works the same way (thankfully! Imagine if we all had to follow the way that someone like Alan Moore writes his scripts! Maybe some of you do!) But, I, personally, don't like to try and dig too far into the characters psyche when not in the story, because if you have these things in mind. Sometimes they can become too transparent and as we all might know not everyone's motives are easy to see. So, yeah, like I'll write out why my character wants to work at this crappy job or why he keeps going after this one certain woman when all she does is berate him or whatever. But, when it comes down to actual character motivation I like to just see where it goes. Might just be me though. :)

Thanks again kids, lots of help!

mwhite
08-08-2003, 12:53 AM
Originally posted by muthmaniac


2. What Marcus said, about not agreeing with the premise of the question - I can see how a writer, especially one that I know is as good as you are, can let these things come naturally and not even think about the little details. But, not everyone has that skill or talent. I appreciate you dropping in and giving two cents, but I would think that there would have at least been more for you to add than that! :)


Okay, now I feel a little bad... Sorry Muth. I'll try my best to give you something more than that. But really, I just don't think like that.

I'm a situational writer, I guess you could say. I start from a very basic idea -- usually character driven. I'm a firm believer that character drives plot -- that it creates plot. Like the other guys were saying, you need to know your characters. That's how I write -- by knowing my characters. I know my characters because I am my characters. I approach writing the same way character actors approach acting -- I become my characters. I put myself in their situation and just go with it...

Usually, they're in some way an extention in some way of myself -- a facet of my personality. That makes writing a lot easier -- more fun. I don't have to think as much. It's also very good therapy. I can explore different aspects of my personality I might not ever explore in my daily life.

Action is dictated by circumstance. Action creates new circumstance. It goes on. And on. I don't think out my writing because I really don't have to, with the way I attack writing. Anyone can do it. It has nothing to do with whether you're a good or bad writer. Or maybe it does... I dunno.

The circumstance doesn't matter as much as character to me, that's why I didn't agree with the premise of your question. I really don't even plot. If you know your characters -- you just know where they'll be. And because you know them they can function freely in any environment they place themselves in.

You can't spend time thinking about whether you're being cliche or not. Writing shouldn't be that analytical. Just go with your gut. Write what you feel -- how you feel it. Don't filter yourself. Your first instinct is usually your best instinct.

Writing is an excercise in balls -- so is any form of art. It takes balls to be a writer. To tell people that you're so interesting that they just have to read the shit that springs from your head.

Anyway, I hope that helped some... and wasn't just the blathering that it felt like...

banshee
08-08-2003, 05:40 AM
if it takes balls to be a writer, then I am anatomically screwed.

hehehee just winding ya up, mwhite LOL

(gets offline bfr storm hits)

later days
lia eetc

Vendetta
08-08-2003, 10:05 AM
That is what I was trying to say as well. Knowing your characters, knowing how they think, knowing what they want... not wanting people to be able to see their motivations IS a motivation, btw... generally a guy hitting on a woman doesn't want her to know that all he wants is to get her into bed... he usually plays a little game until he gets what he wants. Motivation... get girl into bed/ don't let her know that's all I want.

But, the point is... don't let setting and stuff get in the way. Let the characters live and that is what really matters.

When I first started writing, I used to write out all the motivations that I could come up with. But now I don't. I've learned to become the characters when I write their dialogue. I do play games in my head with the characters when I am developing them... things like... How would X stand in this line waiting to order McDonalds? Would he talk to so and so? What would he say?... hundreds of everyday life situations that I live through, I put my characters through as well and WHO they are becomes ingrained in me.

Its just how I do it.

muthmaniac
08-08-2003, 11:12 PM
It's Cool. You know what I think the thing is. Is that this is a story that I'm also drawing, hopefully, and being that I need to draw where the characters are going to be that's screwing up the writing part. (I don't know how Frank Miller does it!) Perhaps, I've got this question parked in the wrong place and should be for both the writers and the artists to think or comment on.

Anyway, I thank you all for your insightful answers and hopefully, someday, you'll see the results of it! ;)

Later,
John

**Plus, I got the nice little debate going! Man, now I'm realizing how much I missed not having the internet. Of course, now that I have it I'm not getting my other work done! :)**

Vendetta
08-10-2003, 10:16 PM
HAHAHAH

that is classic. I remember when I was trying to be a comic book artist and boy did I want some of the scenes to be changed when they were something that I struggled with in drawing

muthmaniac
08-11-2003, 12:05 AM
I think that what I wrote was misinforming. Because it's not that I have a problem drawing the setting. It's just that the scene doesn't read right...I've just started drawing it and am almost to that part and just running over in my head how I would do it, and it just felt wrong. Hopefully, you'll all see what I'm talking about someday. :)

Vendetta
08-11-2003, 01:23 AM
hopefully some day soon :D