Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Non-fiction stuff?

About a year ago, I started thinking about writing non-fiction. Mostly subplots and plot threads--because that was last years a-ha moment. But, the more research I do into craft, the more I realize many books don't address the fundamental problem.

A unified approach to desired effects. Alice said, "focus on a slice". I need to do that for my lecture, but--the subject is huge (another Alice-ism). It's not just character arc and emotional structure, it's gathering building blocks to be able to understand why it works, and how.

When I was first learning action beats and scene structure. Nobody thought to explain. Someone would say "scene", and I'd vaguely know it meant something to do with structure, but what a scene was, what it did and when it ended? Hey, clueless<<<<

In Robert McKee's Story, before he launched into structure, he explained, step by step, exactly what he meant by action beat, sequence, scene, whatever--he told all. Most of the rest of the stuff was... okay, but not what I was looking for. But I re-read those two pages over and over, unless I had them memorized.

To learn emotional structure, you have to know basic grammar, basic plot construction, how to use subtext and what it is, pov, not just the names, but actual mechanics and conventions common to your genre.


The Moral Premise.

Hated that book. It sounded good. The reviews were good. I'm not sure who bought it and where their minds were, but damned if that wasn't the driest number of big words I'd ever seen. It started right out of the gate with one use of premise refers to the statement of evidence in a logical argument and then goes into a discussion of RW Burch, a logician and Edward Damer, a philosopher. Hey there, fast person--first, you used big words in a confusing way, and I have no clue where you're coming from. Then you assumed I already had a grounding in the logic and philosophy behind using abstract principles in screenwriting.

In every field, there are discussions. But, they are specific to that field. As an outsider coming in? I had no clue. It would have benefited from a chapter or two to bring me up to speed. Even if I'd been a screenwriter, maybe I wasn't privy to that discussion--same reasoning.

So I'm thinking, some kind of book, structured with building blocks first, important, don't miss rebar structure next and then how to get your building up. Of course, there needs to be a way to skip over sections you already know...

But, to that end--(you know, the end where I write a non-fiction book for Writer's Digest?) I'm working on my platform. This morning, I sent out a course proposal for continuing education.

I don't have the cred to teach English, but that's not what I want anyway. I'd like to teach a five day (it's college, so...I'm thinking an hour a day) interactive hands-on class in how to write a character-driven story from the ground up.


Kaige said...

Sounds like an awesome plan. Nothing else, it'll solidify everything in your head. I'd sign up for that course!

jodi said...

lol--you should have heard the woman on the other end. It was a mini-pitch session. "So what do you have?" me, "I'm working on structuring a novel for emotion through the use of pov and subtext", and she went, "it sounds like it'd fit in at our Kent extension." (in other words, hmm...okay, just make sure it's far from me, lady)

and that's true, I'm talking to myself in the car--trying to get things straight

Alice Audrey said...

I have often dreamed of running an intense summer school program for writers going from total newbe to polishing a manuscript. There was so much that was not presented to me when I got my degree that should have been.

jodi said...

lol Alice, I'm kind of stuck right now, hoping they're okay with my lack of formal training. *sigh*

but yeah--I know what you mean. It's like when I was listening to the PRO bootcamp and thinking--enough with the inspiration sermon, get on with the info.

Unhinged said...

Well, Jodi, you three (Kaige, Alice) are several ladder steps above me. I just WRITE. Or, try to. Unless I was struck by lightning, it'd be struggle for me to grasp what you're trying to share here.

So I fudge. And I fudge. And I fudge. Which is good because I like fudge, but...never mind.

Yes, this is how I think.

Alice Audrey said...

Right, get down to the info, and don't be preachy about it. I hate it when lecturers forget there is alway more than one way to do something when it comes to writing.

jodi said...

lol, Andi. I like maple walnut fudge and butter pecan. Although not the butter pecan with the fake butter flavoring. Just butter (it's subtle, true...) and pecans:)

Jeanna said...

You would be an excellent teacher.