Creative Writing Notes

[What follows are notes I've collected about creative writing. I'm just putting 
it here because it might be of use to someone else.]

INTRODUCTION
In creative writing, rules are made to be broken. 
Learn from established structures and formulas, but ultimately be yourself and 
express yourself. With a little effort, everyone can find their own personal, 
original style. 
The differences in your style make your writing interesting. 
Your opinions, and your life experience, are unique and original; therefore, you 
and everyone are unique, interesting people; therefore, everyone's writing has 
the potential to be the unique expressions of an interesting person. 
You are a person whose experiences with culture, the world, the arts, et cetera, 
and whose individual perceptions of such things, will reflect well on your 
writing if you let them by not doing anything in your writing that is against 
the person who you are. 
You can write characters who are WAY different than yourself; however, you've 
gotta write those characters from your perceptions of those types of people. 
Your perceptions of the world will provide your writing with content. Your 
experiences with language and literature will provide the means and/or tools for 
creating your own style. Therefore, you must read and encounter a lot of 
literature in order to assimilate the styles which will merge to form your own, 
unique style. 
If you live up north, your writing will be different from the writing of someone 
who lives in the deep south. If you are a boy, your writing will be different 
than the writing of a girl. Catholics will write differently than Muslims. 
Liberals will write differently than conservatives. People who keep up to date 
about the news and current events will write differently than people who don't. 

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"Sympathetic Characters"
An audience naturally hopes for the well-being of a character who shows that 
they care for the well-being of someone, or something else. An audience calls a 
character who shows sympathy for life other than its own a "sympathetic" 
character.
Sympathetic humans in turmoil make scripts interesting.

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"Leadership Traits in Characters"
Several types of characters can be leaders. There is no one single character 
archetype for all leaders. Anyone who is motivated towards a goal can find 
people whose goals are complimented by their own goals. When a project has a 
mutual benefit to all team-members, the leader can motivate, lead, and direct, 
without feeling too guilty about delegating duties throughout the team. But 
sometimes a leader will feel bad about telling people to do things, so his/her 
team-members need to remind the leader about what I said at the start of this 
paragraph.
All good leaders have a few things in common:
*they have their shit in order.
*they care about their team.
*they delegate authority.
*they encourage their team to trust their own instincts, and they encourage 
their team to take their own initiatives.
*they let their team learn from their own mistakes.
*they have earned the trust of their team.
*their ethics are respected by their team, because their own actions set good 
examples for their team.
*they challenge the individual skills of each team-member.
*when giving assignments, they will answer all questions, explain all tasks, and 
they will explain the reasons for every time-limit.
*they have "people skills."


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"Theme"
If a set of characters handle a situation honestly, and they have a better 
outcome than a set of characters who handle a similar situation dishonestly, 
then a theme within that story which contains both sets of characters, is the 
merits of honesty. When two sets of characters deal with similar enough 
situations that comparing their outcomes can reveal a theme, english teachers 
like to call those sets of characters each-other's "foils".
Plot can reveal theme by causing changes in characters, settings, et cetera. The 
difference between the state of things in the beginning of the story, when 
compared with the state of things in the end of the story, can reveal the theme 
when you think about what has changed, and how and why things have changed!


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"EDITING"
Resisting urges to edit while writing will help you to get to the end of your 
story quicker; however, a solidly edited beginning will launch your chain of 
events more accurately toward an awesome ending. It's awesome if it feels right 
to the author; that's because writing can be a catharsis. Catharsis is just a 
big word for "emotional purging." Writing is not a race to the finish line -- 
unless a race to the finish line feels right. If all of your scenes feel right 
to you, they'll have a better chance of feeling right for the particular 
audience for whom your story is written.

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"Risks"
If you take risks in writing -- and in life -- your failures and accidents can 
become your best friend. It's always better to learn a lesson than to not have 
tried at all. Plus, trying might result in achieving your goal. Achieving a 
goal, or learning a lesson, are far more valuable than anything that can happen 
if you don't take risks. 
To take a risk is to try something new that you're not sure if it'll work. Don't 
be nervous about taking risks. Don't be nervous about attempting new things. If 
you don't take risks -- if you don't attempt new things -- your abilities might 
not grow. 
Risk-taking can self-teach you new ways to say and do those things that you -- 
as a writer, and as a person -- are compelled to say and do.
More advancements result from risks, and from accidents, than the amount of 
advancements which happen due to sitting on your ass and letting life pass you 
by. And that's why risk-taking is a good idea if you want your skills -- or your 
anything -- to advance! 


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"Adversity"
Good stories show us how different characters will deal differently with 
different types of adversity, so maybe I should have finished those two painful 
scenes, and maybe I should have included them. 
"A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is 
only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities." 
-Charles de Gaulle 
"Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart." 
-Myla Kabat-Zinn 
"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope." 
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
"A dose of adversity is often as needful as a dose of medicine." -American 
proverb 
"For man's greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, 
isolation, abadonment and poverty are battefields which have their 
heroes--obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes." 
-Victor Hugo 
"Real life isn't always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring 
acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive 
but surmount our difficulties." -Sarah Ban Breathnach 
"If you watch how nature deals with adversity, continually renewing itself, you 
can't help but learn." -Bernie Siegel, MD 


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"Tips"
* Subtext is when you're talking about one thing, but another thing is meant. 
No, I'm not being sarcastic.
* Is plot the fault of the character, or is character the fault of plot?
* Conflicts make stories interesting; it's an undisputed fact. Disputes are 
conflicts. Disputes come from tension. Tension comes from love and war.
* Dramatic Questions (such as: What's happening? Will this work? How will they 
learn about it? What is it?) "hook" the audience's attention, often before they 
know the story. A good story creates new dramatic questions by answering old 
ones.
* Hook your readers with interesting backstory within the first few pages! 
* Stay with the most interesting characters. Never write a scene FOR a character 
who is not interesting to you at the moment. Always remain open to having anyone 
steal the spotlight at any time. But make sure the spotlight is always on that 
person whom deserves it the most at the moment. The person who deserves the 
spotlight the most will always be the person whom you are most interested in 
during any particular writing session. 
* Build and resolve tensions at a fun pace throughout your story.
* Twists are good, but make sure the audience always has something to hold onto. 

* Good writers write, so write!
* Plot is anything with potential consequences. The bigger the consequences, the 
more interesting the story will be. Consequences are the reactions of actions, 
and your story should be comprised completely of actions that evoke 
consequences, until the final consequence which is the end of your story.
*The bigger the consequences, the more interesting the story will be. 
*Most stories are about how a major character undergoes a change. 
*Keep a net open for capturing new ideas.
-I re-draft scripts constantly, until everything's so solid that I can't change 
it anymore and I can only add stuff.
*The story should contain nothing more than what needs to be in the story.
-If I learn something new about a character, and if I can edit that into a 
script in a way which compliments the structure of the story, I always do.
*The world in which the story takes place must provide context for all 
explanations, however contrived, to make sense. 
*The opening of a story is the hook -- it should snag the reader's interest. No 
hook means the reader probably won't finish the first page.
*Erase scenes that don't feel right. Don't keep any scene unless you are 
completely certain that it fits. 
*People want to see a good conflict motivate an interesting protagonist.
-"Good" and "interesting" mean different things to different audiences. Put a 
cat in the story, and it appeals to everyone!
*If you are an interesting person, than any character whom you "put your soul 
into" will also be an interesting person.
-... to people who find you interesting!
*When the biggest dreams of your main character come true, your audience enjoys 
your story!
-...because it's encouragement for their own aspirations!
*Your audience will have the strongest memories of the beginning, and ending of 
your story, so include very interesting details within the beginning, and 
ending, of your story. 
*Your audience will be more impressed by information they figure out for 
themselves than from information you tell them directly.
*Re-draft, and re-think your stories, until every character is a living, 
breathing person. 
*Edit until the wording is correct, the rhythm is decent, and the gaps are 
bridged.
-I had a few main events in a pre-planned plot -- a vague summary I wrote -- 
before I started writing this story!
*Every story should be a journey. It should have a beginning, a middle and an 
end. 
-Stories shouldn't end; they should have turning-points where the story CAN end 
if the writer doesn't write anymore, and those turning-points should be high 
points where so many things are tied up that it's difficult to write anymore. 
But writing sequels which top predescessors is like reaching new levels in video 
games, and I'm addicted to playing this game!



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"Characterization"
For your audience to get into your characters, you must first have an intimate 
knowledge of your characters. As their unseen guide, you create their world, and 
the situations which influence their decisions, but you don't make their 
decisions. Your characters are players in a game for which you drew the map, and 
timed only the events which are not controlled by them.
Your characters can tell lies just as often as real humans tell lies. The 
characters who talk about your other characters can lie about those characters 
for the same reasons anyone in reality would lie about someone they'd lie about.
If you're true to your characters, their dialogue will ring true within the 
critical ears of the audience. Something that doesn't sound right to you, 
probably won't sound right to a member of your audience. Meditate individually, 
about each individual character. Think about people you know, or have known, or 
have experienced through television, radio, books, et cetera, whom might have 
inspired the character whom you want to write about. Junction aspects of those 
muses into the personality of the new character. 
Whether you understand or not, why your character made a certain choice, if that 
choice seems like a choice that, that type of character would make within the 
world of your story, keep it ... at least until you think of a reason to edit it 
out. You don't have to understand why a character would do something, you just 
have to understand that what the character is doing is something that that 
character would do.
The actions and dialogue of a character, in response to his/her situation, 
reveals the character of your character.


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"Stasis"
At the start of a story there is some sort of "stasis." The initiating incident 
interrupts that "stasis", and the story ends when some form of "stasis" is 
regained. The status of stasis can change many times throughout the story. The 
main character is always the person whose presence creates, or is affected the 
most by, most of the dramatic action in the story. 

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“Verbal Economy”
No matter what, when a character says something, that character should have 
something to say, always, or else the lines, and the reader's time, are wasted. 
That's why I write really long lines, but I extract the best parts, to create 
the short lines which make up the beautiful dialogue in my scripts. Then people 
call my scripts awesome... and they do ... I'm not making this up, they actually 
do call my scripts awesome.
So if you want to put more awesomeness into less space, just erase redundancies 
-- or otherwise useless stuff -- from your text!
{IN OTHER WORDS: To shorten stories, erase useless text!} 
Here's how!
EXAMPLE 1 The following paragraphs relay the same information. 
1. Now I'll show you how to shorten a paragraph into a much shorter thing, such 
as a sentence or two. Shortening paragraphs in such a way serves to tighten your 
stories, and make the information seem like it was arranged with more thought. 
2. A shorter, tighter paragraph, is a thoughtful arrangement of information. 
3. Information is best arranged in short, tight paragraphs. 
4. Short, tight paragraphs, are best. 
5. The best paragraphs are short. 
6. Shorter is better. 
EXAMPLE 2
The following paragraphs relay the same information. 
1. If you mean to change your meaning, feel free to delete more than what is 
redundant! 
2. Deleting non-redundant words might change the meaning of the paragraph! 
3. Deleting non-redundancies might change the meaning of the paragraph! 
4. Non-redundancies provide the paragraph with meaning; don't delete them. 
5. Don't delete the meaning of the paragraph. 
6. The meaning is not expendable. 
7. Redundancies are expendable. You'll notice that as you delete words, you'll 
be compelled to alter other words, in order to make the new composition have the 
same meaning. 
{IN OTHER WORDS: As you delete words, you'll alter other words, in order to 
retain the same meaning.}
{IN OTHER WORDS: Delete some words, and alter others, but never lose your 
point.} 
{IN OTHER WORDS: Skillfully applied deletions and alterations will retain 
important information.}
{IN OTHER WORDS: Drastic edits can retain important information.} 
{IN OTHER WORDS: Delete non-information.}
Now put all your shorter, tighter work, into one composition... "Non-information 
is redundant; delete it, because shorter is bet ... you get the picture! Do you? 
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