Another week over – It’s so sad.
No matter what the size of the story, plots can be complex but it is very off putting when we consider a story to be contrived.
Acceptable complex to contrived is separated by a bit of insecurity. Trust your readers, you do not need to baby them. Have the confidence to reveal without having to leave clues. Clues are a different medium, they are for being spotted, not read.
I think it’s all to do with flow. If you’re writing and your plot unravels naturally, then you have got it right. If you constantly change a story to fit the plot then that is maybe what comes across as contrived.
This is a very hard thing to explain but an easy thing to spot. If you ask yourself if you have covered all the bases and you have, maybe you shouldn’t have. Now that doesn’t mean that your story is allowed to have plot holes, but there are things that you can leave to the reader to assume. Everything doesn’t need to be tidy in a Cluedo manner. (That game is pish. The type of questions that you ask aren’t that exciting!) Mr Jones killed Jean in the study with the mallet type thing. You don’t need to leave clues in your story about the mallet shaped disturbed dust in the garage. You also don’t need to mention that Jean was the only one to know about Mr Jones’s wig and he had sworn her to secrecy. There is no need to explain that Jean had passed this onto her friend Jane who was receiving some unwanted advances from Mr Jones and that she used this snippet of information to deter him. Jean’s disappearance did not need to be explained as her visiting her sister in a remote Hebridian croft where there is no phone single…
And so forth. That’s what happens when you let the story run away from you and you try to cover every base. It becomes unrealistic and completely contrived.
The good and bad thing about writing a story is it’s very difficult to write sarcasm and a lot of true meaning can be missed as the reader doesn’t see any facial expressions. But if, you start adding things like ‘sneered’, ‘hidden smile’, ‘Mwwharrharrharr’ etc, you’ve telegraphed where it is going. So this becomes a different problem. Balance is everything and getting it right is very difficult.
The reason I thought of this was I saw that ‘Gone Girl’ was being shown on the TV this week.
I really enjoyed the book but thought the film was terrible and not just because Ben Affleck was in it. (He is howling in everything – Except for ‘Dogma’ which really had nothing to do with him, I just loved the film. The line about kissing God and getting an erection is very thought provoking and in no way blasphemous. God can be humpable too.) The difference between the book and the film was not knowing. Each chapter had you changing your mind in where it was going, the reveal was never going to be that much of a surprise as it could only go two ways but you changed your mind frequently. When I saw the film, you just knew by the characters demeanour which of the two scenarios was the real one.
There is a book called ‘Jig’ by Campbell Armstrong that is a belter of an example of the writer being in complete control of the reveal. This is so perfectly done that it could never be made into a film unless it was in two parts with the reveal being at the end of the first.
I’ll not say too much about it in case anyone wants to look for themselves.
Now onto our stories.
We had two new writers, a fourth time returner, a legend and me.
Our topics this week include; A shadow, smoking, pyrotechnics, memories and a legend.
As always our initial comments follow.
I was first up on Monday. I enjoyed writing this as it took me back to simpler times. The timing was a bit out for me as I was a couple of years too late in going into the pubs and clubs to hear the warnings but we all knew about them.
As always, I thank Diane and Nik for all their support with The End Of The Night by Hugh Cron – Adult Content.
On Tuesday we had a very intriguing title from Daniel Oliveri who was next up with ‘The Career Of Zulk The Explodomancer In Six Short Episodes‘
‘This skilfully relied on story and humour and not the usual OTT fantasy description.’
‘I enjoyed the bit about the cinnamon!’
‘A very entertaining read with some good lines.’
There is no introduction necessary for Mr Tom Sheehan. He is responsible for using up half the site’s capacity!
‘Lone Dog Amid Apple Seeding’ broke the back of the week.
‘I enjoyed the summary at the end.’
‘This is not my favourite genre but I really did enjoy this.’
‘I’d heard of Johnny Appleseed but wasn’t that sure what he did – I know now.’
Our first new writer was next up. We welcome both our débutantes, hope they have fun on the site and that they continue to send us their work.
Liam Randles was next up with ‘He walked Where It Ended.’
‘I like how sparse this is, it leaves a lot of questions.’
‘Excellent writing with that odd air of mystery.’
‘You enjoy considering things like parallel universes, time loops or psychosis. It doesn’t matter if one or none are relevant.’
And we finished off with our second first timer. We extend the same welcome to Heather Harrison.
‘Mercy‘ was published on Friday.
‘The tension and panic are done very well.’
‘This is well put together. Heather could easily extend this into novel length.’
‘What a crackling idea, cook the humans first!!’
That’s us done and dusted.
Usual Scripture Union on Wednesday.
Keep the comments coming. I can’t tell you how much they mean to us.
And why not give the Sunday Re-Run a go. Pick an older story that you’ve enjoyed, write a spiel or introduction on it and throw in a few questions for the author – We’ll post exactly what you send.
I want to finish with a ridiculous trend or fad that has invaded our lives. I don’t know why a firm shake of the hands ever became not enough. Or even the American hand slap which I still think looks rather cool. I do prefer the low one rather than the childish high five.
Fist bump is a travesty and looks fucking stupid – Especially if the wrist are bent. I have decided to rebel against this and refuse to sully myself by taking part. Instead I say in a very loud voice:
You’ll no be fisting me!
I don’t understand the surprise of the fister in me shouting this as there is no way I would want to be the fisted.
This should only happen between two like minded individuals. If they enjoy a public display of fisting, then fair enough. Me, I’d rather have the aforementioned hand shake or a down low hand slap.
And I reckon my terminology is quite correct. In the English language the letter ‘p’ can be silent, so what does that do to your fist bump??