October 26th, 2016

  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due

Writing Excuses 11.43: Elemental Drama Q&A, with Tananarive Due

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/10/23/11-43-elemental-drama-qa-with-tananarive-due/

Q&A Summary
Q: Rather than having a protagonist change themselves, can a protagonist be an impetus for change in others as a source of drama?
A: Yes. James Bond and iconic superheroes rarely change, but the interesting stories are about the people around them changing. Episodic stories often have a main character who doesn't change, with the changes happening to the people around them.
Q: What happens when a character refuses to learn and overcome their fatal flaw?
A: Tragedy. Key question is can the character change? If they fail, that's a tragedy.
Q: What are the lines between drama and melodrama?
A: Music. True melodrama winks at the audience. Accidental melodrama usually means you didn't introduce the characters and show us the motivation for the conflict. Make sure the emotion is earned.
Q: Do you have any tips for writing body language that reveals a character's internal state?
A: Puppetry has three movements, aggressive, passive, and regressive. Aggressive, lean towards and engage further. Passive, sit still. Regressive, lean back and disengage or avoid. Add in open or closed silhouette, with arms out or crossed, reflecting engaging or not engaging. Top it off with the point of view character interpreting or reacting. Don't overdo it! Use body language to remove ambiguity or emphasize. No head bobbing, please.
Q: When do you not show character growth? Is it sometimes good to have it not exist? Is there a reason not to add drama?
A: Contrast with external events, or contrast with another character.
Q: When writing a character that undergoes a great change that makes him or her radically different, how do you keep it realistic? Also, how do you realistically show people acting differently from their schema?
A: This is a reflection of the difference between what character is perceived to be and who they are internally. Hang a lantern on the fact that they are struggling with who they think they are and who they really are. Make the character realize who they really are and what they are really capable, and let them be heroes and heroines.

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[Brandon] I think we're going to call it there. I really want to thank Tananarive for coming on with us.
[Tananarive] Oh, thank you.
[Brandon] And I want to thank our audience.
[Brandon] Howard has some homework for you.
[Howard] I do. The name for this is if I only had a brain. We're going to be starting issue with our next month of elemental genre. We're talking about the issue elemental genre. What I want you to avoid is the strawman. Take the issue that you are planning on writing about or take an issue about which you are passionate. Identify both sides. Identify which side you are on. Then take the other side and write it convincingly. Put a brain in the strawman. In fact, go ahead and put meat and bone and all of the other body bits on the strawman and turn this into a person, because actual people hold the position that you abhor or disagree with, and they are actual people. Once you can do that, once you can write both sides convincingly, we will believe your book.
[Brandon] Excellent. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.