The Nighttime Novelist...accomplishes more in about 240 pages than a dozen other "how to write" or "craft your novel" books have ever done.

--Helen Gallagher/Blogcritics
[Review]

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Tip #9: Fiction Workshop: The Home Game

--"I'm just not sure I understand what the character really wants. He seems almost bored."
[motivation]

--"Yeah, I know the character wants to go to this parade, but why? What's he want there? What's he think it'll do for him? I know that's what he wants--he tells us a million times--but I have no idea why."
[internal motivation]

--"I like that thing on page three. Or four."
[didn't read the story; IGNORE]

--"On page one, we're told the character is an introvert. Right? So why's he out dancing and living it up on page three? And why's he sound like he's a cocky jerk? Does he have multiple personalities? Or is he not really shy?"
[consistency]

--"If they're trapped in this building, why don't they just use their cell phones to call someone?"
[logic]

--"I was totally into the story for the first seven pages, when we were in first person. I'm not sure why the last four pages are in third. It threw me off."
[POV]

--"We learn up front that the character wants someone to love. So why does he keep brushing off that girl who keeps trying to ask him out?"
[consistency]

--"I just don't think a woman could defuse a bomb."
[sweeping sexist generalization; lack of social skills; oblivious to jaws dropping; IGNORE]

--"I'd just be afraid to write about such...difficult subject matter. You know? I'd be afraid of what people would think of me. You know?"
[no]

--"We're all talking about how we don't think any of this is plausible. But I happen to know that X is writing about something that actually happened to her. So, y'all are saying it doesn't seem real, but I know for a fact it's real."
[fiction, unlike life, has to make sense]

--"It's supposed to be this sad story about the mother dying. I get that. But I don't know why the narrator is filthy-mouthed, or why he keeps making those knock-knock jokes. It doesn't seem very, you know...mournful."
[tone]

"We get four pages of describing the apartment. It's nice enough description, but it goes on and on. Then someone finally knocks at the door, and I think, Something's going to happen! Then the conversation lasts for half a page and we're done."
[pacing]

--"Aren't Orcs copyrighted or something?"
[yes]

--"So he keeps getting these mysterious text messages, and he has no idea who from. So why doesn't he think to just call the number back?"
[logic]

"I thought the motivation--what the character wants in the story, and why he wants it--was clear, and the character stayed consistent throughout, according to how he was set up early on...even though he was still able to surprise me. The things that happened to him, and how he reacted to those things, were logical...generally made sense with how people out here in the real world would act. And I thought the execution--voice, tone, POV, imagery, all that--matched perfectly with the subject matter and helped me understand who the character was, what I should be feeling toward him, and why I should be so sad that he didn't get what he wanted in the end. It made me think about the losses I've experienced in my own life."
[perfect]

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