The Marshland of Middle-land

Status: I’m doped up on medicine and I’m really tired. Oh well, here we go!

The middle of the novel, or rather, of anything, is one of the most tedious portions of the story. Though I personally find that the middle is rather tough, but not as tough as making the perfect beginning – a thing I have chronic problems with, the middle is a pretty formidable foe that has caused many an author to toss in the towel, and give up.

Which leads me to this – what is so scary of the middle?

For me, the middle is hard because you don’t know exactly what is going on. When I write my novels, the middle is the largest portion that is unplotted, especially if I’m pantsing a novel. Yet, the middle is also the place where most of the fun stuff in my novels go, because characters grow, they fall in love, they are killed, they are reborn all in the middle. The middle is where you have the greatest liberty and freedom to do anything you wish. The only problem is figuring out what you want to do.

The middle is a daunting passage of which many people give up on because they cannot tell when it might end. In fact, the fact that the middle even exists turns off many prospective writers. “How will I even reach the end?” Some will lament.

You reach the end by writing, I reply.

There really is no other way to reach the end but by writing onwards. Press onwards, and when you reach the end then you can look back and then chart the route you have made. Sure, it may seem inelegant and indulgent – but the first draft is always inelegant, ugly, and crude. It is only when you see the tracks you have made in the middle that you know where you can improve. And so, one of the biggest ways that helps you to get through the middle is to never look at the ending.

That’s right. You just go into the novel every day, you just sit yourself down, and keep writing. Just keep writing, just keep getting your characters to move onwards, to press forth, and eventually you will reach the end. It will surprise you, that sometimes the ending might come at that point, but the important thing to note is that the ending arrived while you were not focusing on it.

I’m keeping to a commitment myself to write a few hundred words a day on this fanfiction, and though I can guess at how the ending will be, the middle looms before me. And thusly, I cast aside my thoughts of the end, and focus on the middle. I plan for the present, I work for the present, and I shall be ever more surprised when the ending comes to me. The middle is nothing to be afraid of when you put your mind to it and work through it in sustainable bites and pieces.

Every journey begins with a single step, and the middle fits with this idea. To get through the middle, you take that step, and you keep forcing one foot in front of the other till you get to the end.

It’s really that simple. Give it a shot!

Jas

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Posty Post for Middle Earth

The Middle. Heh. How can I write on the Middle, if I can’t even write beginnings? Apparently, most people know where their stories start and end, but they have trouble with all the Middle Things. All the Middle Ground you have to get through. Me? I’d rather be given a Beginning, write the Middle, and have someone else write the End. 

I like the Middle. Done with the exposition nonsense that I can never get right, and with no worries for the loose ends I’m sure to leave at the End. The Middle is where I find comfort in killing characters, causing drama, and doing all kinds of other things that are neither Beginning nor End appropriate. 

So I’m going to tell you to come to terms with the Middle. I’m one of the odd ones that actually enjoys the Middle, but I believe everyone should come to terms with the Middle Earth, if you will.


But I don’t Wanna Write That Part!

It’s a struggle that all writers face at one point or another. No, I don’t mean writer’s block. I mean The Middle.

The Middle is generally the place where writer’s tend to slack off a bit in their writing. And that also happens to be the same place where readers tend to zone out a little bit, so oftentimes we can get away with this.

Frankly, The Middle is always the hardest part to write. It’s that part of the story where sometimes you feel as if you’re pouring all of your energy into your writing and yet making little or no headway at all. You’re not quite sure of where you’re headed, just knowing that you want to hit that seemingly unattainable ending. At times, you can’t even see that light at the end of the tunnel. You’re characters are beginning to get on your nerves, and more than once you’ve found yourself writing little side stories where your characters die slow, painful deaths. You might even skip to the end or abandon the story altogether.

I’m here to tell you that this is normal. This isn’t you being a bad writer. During NaNo, this is the part where I generally want to abandon my novel and just write something else. But trust, me, as soon as you get to the end of the tunnel, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment; and a second writing is almost always easier, because you’ll know what you want The Middle to be about.

So don’t fret. Persevere through that boring middle part, and wow us all with what you produce.

Hunger


Scripting. Wait. What?

Personally, when I was confronted, by dear Hunger no less, by the thought of Scripting for Screnzy, I was a little terrified. Still am, and it’s four days into April. I’ve been in plays, and I did solo acting in high school for speech. So I have performed scripts, read them, interpreted them. But I’d never given thought to writing one. Now I have.

For my Screnzy I’m writing short 8 to 10 minute monologues/dialogues that can be used as speech entries. This is impressively harder than I had thought it would be. Not only because I’m no longer in the head of my character, which is something Lectin pointed out, but also that I can’t describe things.

The lack of ability to describe setting, facial expressions, props, clothes is what gets me. That is what makes it almost impossible to write a script.  I write prose with a lot of dialogue; it’s just how I write. But when I’m not writing dialogue I’m world building, or describing everything. And with scripting I can’t do that. And that is why I gave up Screnzy, four days in.

So, short post. But I don’t have much to say about Scripting. Enjoy your day.


Frenzied Direction

Status: I’m so so tired. Exhaustion is like a drug right now, and all I want to do is die in my seat.

Hello ladies and gents and persons of dubious quality. For me, the first day of Screnzy is just about to end in about one hour, and I’ve gotten myself no work done whatsoever. But I’m here to tell you all about my Screnzy experiences last year, and what I learnt from them.

Screnzy, as the name implies, is all about the script. Scriptwriting is something that is very different in terms of style from poetry and prose. It is about direction – it is about what we can see and what we can hear. In fact, if we were to look at Scriptwriting, the biggest adjustment one has to make in transition from prose to script is the fact that you are not in your character’s head anymore.

Nope, na-uh. Not a single bit. All your emotions, all your plans, they must now center around the actions and words of your characters. Rather than allowing us to sink directly into the character’s mind, one must give us a glimpse (but a worthy glimpse I must add) of the character’s mind. Of the character’s motivation, their tics and body behaviours, of their carriage.

But is that to say that script writing is harder? I don’t necessarily think so.

When it comes to script-writing, I find it intensely refreshing that I don’t have to worry about my writing style. To me, script is a directive play, one where I direct the story in my head in the form of a motion picture. I can see what my characters do, and I speculate on their actions about their motivations. Scenery is no problem either now – I love to write about scenery and how it interacts with the character. In script writing, I can do that. Stripped down to it’s barest bones, you are allowed to think visually rather than in word form, and this is a major plus if you are a visual thinker like me in many senses of the word.

I am a great lover of broadway. I love to watch plays which are focused on the nuances of the physical realm. Of the little shifts and movements, of the minute expressions of the face (brought to exaggeration, or minimised for effect). Were I rich, I’d probably watch plays all the time. Musicals are a particular soft spot of mine – I have always found broadway musicals to have some of the most lovely arrangements there are. And I bring this abiding love of the screen down to my writing when I attempt Screnzy, and I must add – it is far easier for me to complete a 100 page script than to complete a 50000 word novel!

As Raven said, if you want to consider script-writing a venture that you want to take seriously, please do your homework and find out terms that you must use in your script. Terms like cold open and mise en scene are going to be your bread and butter now. But if you’re like me, and you want to just dilly-dally around with a story, a game, or a movie – then just jump headfirst in. Enjoy the ride, have fun with your work. I know some of my favourite writers participate in Screnzy too (a casual shoutout to Diane Duane won’t hurt), and just imagining that I’m working with them to the same goal is reward enough for me.

Enjoy your Screnzy guys. Have fun, and don’t forget to be awesome.

Jas


Procrastination and the Dark Side

Hi.

I’m lockpique: the newbubble here.  At any rate, I decided that I didn’t have nearly enough things to do this month, and so the rest of this group graciously accepted me onto their blog…to write about writing.

I’ve done my fair share of writing: More than some and not as much as others.  I’m the founder of my school’s creative writing club.  I’ve done nanowrimo a few times, and I signed up for screnzy exactly once – and then spent the rest of the month reading webcomics.

I did a really brief outline once for a script of a sequel to a story that I hadn’t finished yet.  It’s still unfinished and lying mouldering in the Documents folder of my computer.

So I’m not exactly super qualified to talk about script writing – not nearly as much as I would be to talk about procrastination, say, or webcomics.

The main points of advice, though, seem to stretch across disciplines.  In scripts as much as stories, it’s advised that you be concise when you can and lyrical when you can’t.

It’s also generally advised that you don’t set yourself impossible goals (My script will win an Oscar, or go to Sundance) because while it is certainly conceivable, it won’t happen on a first draft or even, likely, on a second.  Setting yourself impossible goals leads to procrastination.

Procrastination leads to fear.  Fear leads to typing furiously at 3 am.  Typing furiously at 3 am leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side.

Writing scripts, just like writing stories, gets easier when you do it a lot.  Type when you’re tired.  Type when you’re bored.  Type when you’re angry at your roommate for waking you up at 5am when you were writing until 3.

And finally, when you’re writing scripts or stories, read.  Or watch, in the case of movie scripts.  Reading opens your mind to other perspectives, viewpoints, methods of writing.  It gives you a sort of template to base your work off of: not plotwise, but in the finer details.  The finer details like how an author will work a transition into a piece, how they control rising emotion, how they set scene and character.  Reading and watching other authors’ work is vital for your own development as a writer.

I will be the first to cheerfully admit that I don’t follow most of these all of the time: especially the one about procrastination.  I’m a chronic procrastinator.  Most people who know me know this.

But I do think that these are really important, especially if you’re planning to do screnzy this year.  Which I do recommend.

And with that, I have three items of homework to complete tonight, if I don’t want to procrastinate my way to the Dark Side on Monday morning.

-Lockpique


Enter Stage Right

Whenever someone says “I’m a writer,” they’re not telling you very much. They could be saying “I write short stories,” “I write poems,” or “I write essays for my high school English class.” The fact of the matter is that there is a huge range of writers, from those focusing on short stories to essays to everything in between. One type of writing that tends to go over the heads of most people is script writing. Unless you are a script writer or you’ve been involved in theater, you’ve likely not had much to do with this aspect of writing. Unfortunately, you’re undervaluing a major part of our society. Without scripts, there would be no television shows, no movies, no plays, no musicals. A great deal of your entertainment hinges on scripts and the people who write them.

There is a huge variety in script writing, just as there is in novel writing and poem writing. They can be incredibly formal, with every move charted out. They can also be no more than just a scribbled note of who stands where and who says what. You’ve probably written one of these informal scripts. If you’ve had to give a presentation in class, you’ve scripted your speech. If  you’ve made a Youtube video (that’s not impromptu), you’ve scripted that. Scripting is not hard to do.

However, it is hard write a good script. Script writing is something that anyone can do but not anyone can do well. Some things to consider:

  • One must be doubly aware of the basic mechanics of script writing. The average person rarely reads scripts, so it is unlikely that you will have a great enough familiarity with scripts to be able to write one just by imitation. Therefore, you should take the opportunity to read as many scripts as possible and study the basic format of a script.
  • Know the terms used in script writing. Do you know what a crawl is? Or a swish pan? Do you know how to use an establishing shot? Read up on the terminology used in script writing. Make sure you understand how these things are used in the script and how they translate to the performance.
  • Know the differences between types of scripts. There are different formats for scripting a play as opposed to an episode of Friends or a movie. Filmed and performed scripts are read differently. You have to have a grasp on your story and how it would best be translated into reality. Know the pros and cons of each kind of script.

These points are more important than anything. Before you can get anywhere in script writing, you need to have a solid grounding. Without that, it won’t matter one bit how great your understanding of diction or characterization or story flow.