Thursday, February 15, 2007

A writing tip from me to me (paca)

I've calmed down a lot on reading my various writing, agent, and publication sites. I used to look at several a day, but lately it's just Evil Editor and mostly because it's funny. However, periodically, a really nice comment will pop out there that is really worth saving. I was just writing my own comment on that site about a new spy thriller query, and I ended up writing something which at the end is very important (to me):

"Here's a pet peeve. Does there HAVE to be a dad-dying connection? A lot of people can care about a horrible disease just from regular normal people dying from it. Similarly, does the beautiful uber-environmentalist have to have ties to his past? Maybe she's just beautiful and uber and that's enough. She doesn't also have to be someone from med school that dumped you just before that exam. These "ties to the past" connection is a pet peeve of mine in that many people seem to think that whatever their plot is just isn't compelling if all of the people didn't grow up on the same street together as children. It's insta-conflict. Just add and stir. Instead of making the uber-femme have ties to his past, make the uber-femme so freaking uber that all the readers want her desperately and break out in a sweat when her name is mentioned."

I started off just talking about something that happens to irritate me and is of no real writing consequence. We've all watched a movie where it turns out that the evil overlord is actually HIS FATHER! or the assassin is HIS HIGH SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND!! or whatever. Sometimes it works. It kinda, sorta works for old Darth Vader because Darth Vader was already cool (and his name is dark father). But more often than not, these seem just thrown in like incidental music. Instead of making a scene frightening, you just blast music at the audience. In this case, you write boring characters with boring conflicts and then suddenly try to make it all important because it's HIS MOTHER!!.

But really as a writer, your job is to create people and situations that don't need that. The new love interest doesn't need to be from the guy's past to be interesting. She needs to be interesting already.


bunnygirl said...

Very well said, Paca. Very, very well said.

-E said...

well in defense of star wars, it is an epic of good vs. evil... a modern mythology, blah blah blah. but yeah, most fiction is not star wars.

Anonymous said...

that's why books are better than movies. its all about the story.