Tangent: The Powerpoint Kitchen Sink Day
On Eloquence • Eloquence is virtually impossible to teach. • Different situations call for different methods. • Forced eloquence often overlaps with purple prose or thesaurus syndrome. • If used in excess, it can disrupt the reader or even overshadow other, better-executed factors of the work. • The best way to learn eloquence is to read it. • Osmosis!
On Titles • Things to (generally) avoid: • One-word titles. • “Moonlight” • Titles featuring a character’s name or a place. • “Eleanora Blake” “Raymanthia” • Made-up words in general. • “Jjfdngkjgd” • Acronyms. • “S.P.Y.” • Cliched words or phrases. • “The Hero’s Sword” for fantasy, “Gunfight at High Noon” for a western, “Plant People from Jupiter” for a space opera.
Escaping Your Comfort Zone • Research is King. • There are countless resources online for writers looking to learn about a particular genre or subgenre. • Look through the works of other authors in your chosen genre – not just the successes, but the trainwrecks. Use what you’ve discovered to figure out what and what not to do. • Pick a genre you love. Otherwise, find things to love about it.
Protagonists By the Numbers • 1 Protagonist. • Requires a distinct character voice, especially in first person POV. Memorability is required here. • 2 Protagonists. • Unless they have very different character voices (which they should anyway), third-person limited is the way to go here. • 3 Protagonists. • Third-person limited all the way. Make sure they share equal levels of connection with each other – no unbalanced triangles. • 4+ Protagonists or Ensemble. • Dangerous waters. Amateurs should not attempt this. Requires an expert grasp on third-person limited or an even better one on third-person omniscient.
Magic and Science Systems • “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke. • “Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.” Maggie “Not Actually Arthur C. Clarke” Chan. • If you’re going to have rules, follow them to the letter. If you’re going to break said rules, do it in a plausible and reasonable way. If you can’t do that, then make the handwaving funny.
Nonhumans and Humans with Nonhuman Abilities • Applies to nonhumans (vampires, werewolves, elves, etc.) and humans with nonstandard abilities (mutants, psychics, wizards, etc.) • Think in terms of evolution. Nature has no reason to let a predator like a vampire just gallivant off without some weaknesses to keep it from wiping out its prey species. • For any major benefit, there must be a detriment. Don’t ignore potentially interesting flaws because you’re convinced your character/species has to be all-powerful.
Avoiding Cliches • Let this song do the talking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=K5sXSix359M#t=36s • Quick fix: Try to summarize the thing you’re concerned about. If the phrase “like in [thing X]” or “like [character Y]” shows up in your head more than once, you’re in trouble.
Open Questions • Ask me anything! • Within reason.