Tags: mice quotient

Fireworks Delight
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Writing Excuses 12.3: Project In Depth, "Risk Assessment," by Sandra Tayler

Writing Excuses 12.3: Project In Depth, "Risk Assessment," by Sandra Tayler

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2017/01/15/12-3-project-in-depth-risk-assessment-by-sandra-tayler/

Key points: Doing the bonus story was a surprise because it meant crossing the roles, stepping into Howard's space. Also, Sandra had never written comics. The story? How did the grandparents of Captain Kaff Tagon meet, as told by Bristlecone, the gunship AI. A mil sci-fi meet cute! Adorable with explosions! Doing the collaboration, Howard tried to stay hands-off, and let Sandra do it. Mostly helping to pare the story down to seven pages of comic, leaving dead darlings everywhere, but keeping the core story of a cautious person doing something brave because it was needed. One of the keys to this collaboration was Sandra spending a weekend with Mary, where Mary talked about MICE quotient and other ways to get a handle on a story. Another part was Howard pointing out that you can write the story with all the normal narrative bits, then prune it to a comic script (dialogue plus side notes for the artist). Working with the artist meant Howard tutoring on terminology to use. The biggest lesson in doing it is comics are hard. And Howard deserves a big round of applause for being willing to take the risk of letting someone else step into his space and do something without interfering.

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[Brandon] I think we are going to call it here. Sandra, you had a writing prompt for us?
[Sandra] I do. One of these that really appealed to me, about this writing story was the beginnings of things. The beginnings of things really, really matter to people. The beginnings of relationships, in particular, which is why we have the meet cute as a thing that happens in so much fiction. Because how people meet and how they become friends or lovers or spouses matters. It informs the entire rest of the relationship. So what I would like you to do is take a pair of characters that you are working with who have a long-standing relationship, and I want you to write, not necessarily the moment that they met, but that foundational meeting. Because I met Howard before I actually… Before we really connected. A couple of times. But there's this… Always this moment that is the foundational moment in a relationship. I want you to write that up. I want you to think about how that moment influences the stuff that actually is in your story.
[Brandon] All right. I want to thank the people on the Writing Excuses cruise this year.
[Whoo!]
[Brandon] I want to thank Sandra for joining us on the podcast.
[Sandra] You're welcome. This is fun.
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
Me typing?

Writing Excuses 11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A

Writing Excuses 11.26: Elemental Mystery Q&A

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/06/26/11-26-elemental-mystery-qa/

Q&A Summary:
Q: How do you balance between two mysteries in the same story? Should you even try?
A: Yes. Especially small mysteries. A plot, B plot. Be aware of when you open and close each one, and the proportion of time spent on each. Sequential, with the answer to the first mystery introducing the real problem.
Q: What types of mysteries can fit as subplots? For example, when does a murder work as a subplot rather than as a main plot?
A: Any mystery can be a subplot, just set the scope and number of clues. A subplot find the murderer can heighten tension and build characters. Make sure your murder is a complication, that it changes things for the characters.
Q: When the beta readers all figure out the mystery too early, how can I tweak it so that my readers won't have the same experience as my beta readers?
A: Ask the beta readers what tipped them off, then take that out. All mysteries in first draft are either too obtuse or too obvious, and you have to add and remove to get it right. A good red herring that gets pulled out from under everyone helps.
Q: In terms of the MICE quotient, do all mystery plots have to be idea based?
A: Yes.
Q: How do you write a protagonist that is smarter than yourself?
A: Use revision, young writer! Accelerated thinking through rewriting. Jump to a conclusion, then explain the process of thought and clues -- it was not a guess! Extra mysteries with quick solutions to show how smart we are.
Q: So you've made your protagonist really smart, smarter than the average reader and the other characters. How do you still have it be a struggle for them to solve the mystery without losing people or ruining the story just by having it all internal inside of the protagonist's head?
A: Let them make mistakes. Use red herrings that mislead them, too. Make the cost of being wrong really steep. Lack of resources, or other kinds of obstacles.
Q: How do you keep a kidnapping victim from just being a MacGuffin if they aren't recovered until the end of the story?
A: Given them a point of view, and agency through trying to rescue themselves.
Q: How intellectually stimulating can you make a genre mystery? How literary or serious can it be?
A: There's what's happening (the story) and how you tell it. These are not intrinsically related! You can tell any story with any method. Genre, especially elemental genre, does not dictate method of writing.
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[Brandon] So, your homework. I've got your homework this time. One of the things when we were discussing these episodes we realized is mysteries are embedded so much in our stories. There are often so many of them, a surprising number. So I would like you to take a book or film that you enjoy and just jot down every mystery you can see. From who drank my milk to who killed this person or how does the magic work. Whatever it is, write down every one, and you'll start to see that the curiosity of solving a mystery is integral to almost every story that's been written. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.