Thursday, June 7, 2007

What lies beneath, lol...

Emotional Structure


basic thoughts on the index card method. It works. I thought it didn't. It sounds goofy. Doesn't hurt to try.

...or what's WIFM?

WIFM is a corporate training term AKA--What's in it for me? Why the hell should you care if Dunne found a way to reinvent the index card method?

Because you need to know what your characters are feeling to enhance your wip. Layering and subtext, sensory details. Didn't Sun Tzu say to know yourself? Listen to Sun Tzu, the man is dead. There are so many translations, in one of those translations, you know he knows what he's talking about. If you plot your wip's emotional understructure, it's like opening a window onto the Chou Dynasty. plain english?

...put a short synopsis of a piece of forward movement on each index card.

Let's get a for-example in here. (I'm using HOT CONTRACT again, 'cause it's mine and I know it inside and out)

Index card--(this is near the end of the second act)

Art threatens to withhold payment of the money Keegan needs to ransom his brother if Keegan doesn't dump Jen in a way that will make her hate him.

so it's short, sue me. I hate long involved tech-discussions about "how" to write. I only need a tool, I don't need a dedicated house to store them in...


Index card--Art, being Art, has found out that Keegan is sleeping with his daughter. He doesn't think Keegan is good enough and threatens Keegan's prime motivation (his brother Connor). He wants Keegan to initiate the break because he knows Jen will hate him if he gets directly involved, and he loves her despite what she thinks.

on the back...


Keegan is hurting and in pain, he feels guilty about choosing Connor over Jen. He's that close to snapping. It's not a choice and he can't tell her without killing his brother.


index card--Keegan is angry and hurting, he's finally opened up to a woman. THE woman, the woman he loves, and she honest to God loves him back. Ten seconds ago he was on top of the world, now he's supposed to hurt her? But when it comes down to a choice between his brother and Jen, he knows that Jen can live without him, but Connor can't. It's not really a choice. He's starting to feel trapped, and he's going to lash out. Guilt over his choice, pain over hurting Jen. He's a basket case.

now, let's tie this together.

on one side, what's going on in the real world. The "forward motion" integral to your plot. On the other side, thoughts and emotions.

How do you use this info to layer texture?

look at the emotions here, anger and hurt. Impending doom. Ready to explode? What does that suggest? A storm moving in, or the first crack of lightning flashing across the sky, maybe the hair lifting feel of a close strike? The sour stench of gunpowder, (hey! look--solid descriptives that point to the underlying feel without coming out and saying something like, "he felt hurt and angry. He was ready to explode." That way you're free to focus on the scene you've built through the use of internal emotions without beaing people over the head withthe obvious. See the coming storm? Ok, now it's reflected in his storm-gray eyes. Rain falls in a hard sheet as she turns away. Texture. Resonance. It's a good thing., I'm really tired. Lack of caffeine.

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