November 13, 2006

Writing Tips For Success (20156)

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:29 pm by Ian

You probably know crap about writing for a deadline. Don’t worry. I was once like yourselves. Carefree. Light-hearted. Sober. But this series of articles (unless I forget to write more) will fix all that. And then some.

The most important aspect of writing for a deadline, the “thing” of it, if you will, is increasing your wordcount. Today, I will share with you a word extension technique that I’ve recently discovered: misunderstanings.

Think about it. A natural flow of dialog is essential to believable fiction. After all, what are your characters but talking heads? You’re certainly not investing any time in in-depth characterization. So what you’ve actually got is pages upon pages of people talking to each other. And a quotation followed by “character name said” only gets you so far. What you really need to do is increase the word count that each utterance gains you. And the route to that goal is having your characters repeat themselves because they were not correctly heard. Consider the following:

“Let’s go do something,” said Jim
“Ok,” said Sally

It’s bland and mundane. That’s ok. I mean, you’re not Shakespeare. Of course it’s going to be bland and mundane. But compare that to this:

“Let’s go do something,” said Jim.
“What?” said Sally.
“I said ‘Let’s go do something,'” repeated Jim.
“Thanks, but I already ate,” said Sally.
“What?” said Jim.

It’s much longer. And we haven’t even heard how Sally will respond. Your readers will likely be waiting with bated breath.

In order to pull off this particular style with maximum effectiveness, you will need to have two things:

  • A rhyming dictionary
  • Gin

You may think that using this technique will require that your story will have to take place somewhere that old people congregate. Such as the library. Or a nursing home. This is ok. You may be afraid that the lack of dynamicism that having old people as characters implies will doom your story to mediocrity, but let’s not kid ourselves: It wasn’t that great to start with. But while basing a story around the geriatric is a time-tested and effective way of achieving your writing goals, as seen in the following examples:

  • The Old Man and the Sea
  • Miss Havisham.
  • Scrooge (at least, I’m pretty sure that the duck was hard-of-hearing in the Disney version)

But it is not necessary to do so. You could also base your story around a loud place, such as a dance club, saw mill, or nuclear war. Or maybe your story could be about a particularly tenacious group of deaf people. “I Have No Hearing, Yet I Must Talk” would be a good title.

In conclusion, I leave you with this parting wisdom.

  • Lists should really have more than one item in them.

Tune in next time when I shall berate the contraction to within an inch of its apostrophe.

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6 Comments »

  1. Ian said,

    In case you’re wondering: that’s not actually part of the novel.

  2. Kyle said,

    Wow, you just wasted 484 perfectly good words on that side note, right there (not counting your comment, of course). Why not *make* it part of your novel? Perhaps have your MC reading a book on artificially inflating your wordcount, for aspiring novelists, for some reason. Then, BOOM! 484 words closer to your goal.

  3. Ian said,

    My god. It’s like the veils have been lifted from my eyes.

  4. Chris said,

    An easy way to double your word count is just expand all contractions.

    “Let’s go do something.” becomes “Let us go do something.”

    Now your characters sound erudite and you’re half way done!

  5. Ian said,

    Expanding out compound words like “halfway” into their component parts is also an effective verbiage incrementer.

  6. Dad said,

    Or even a simple character name change.

    “Let’s go do something.” said Who.

    “Who said that?” asked Sally.

    “Right.” said Who.

    … and away we go.


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