Update on Writing Class

I came back from the con with a horrible cold. So I am kind of groggy on cold medicine. I planned on writing about my Writing Fundamentals class tonight but I think I will do it tomorrow.

However, here is the bullet points of what I covered. I will expand on these tomorrow.

What is a story? Why do they exist?
What separates good stories from bad? A point.
Understanding people. Character is Action
Two driving motivations: Desire to have, fear of loss
Your protagonists want something, whether they know it or not
The Antagonist’s desires are in opposition to the protagonist
Story is a argument. Characters are points of view.
Antagonists and Hero are opposing arguments
Three acts, what are they?
Set up, Inciting Incident
Conflict, Turning Point
The ending is 60% or more important than the rest of the story

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  1. Short but very sweet. A few words that leave me with a lot to think about.

    Could the two motivations can be compressed into one? They are variants of “want something” in your next line.

  2. What about the desire to lose something? That doesn't fit into your dichotomy.

    Fear can be viewed as the desire to avoid something. Or as a desire for security.

    So I see all three as variants of the same theme: want to get, want to keep, want to lose. All wants. All desires. In your late 90s online writing book, you didn't have a desire/fear dichotomy. You used the terms 'Object of Desire' and 'Grail'. Conflict is the struggle to get the Grail. That's a simpler formula than 'conflict is the struggle to get something or to keep something'.

    The more specific you get, the more people will be bogged down in details and apparent counterexamples (“Hey, where does desire to lose fit in?”) that miss the bigger point.

  3. Fear is not a desire. It is the opposite of a desire.

    And I disagree with your later point. These are just bullet points. I go into more detail in the book which is expanded from the original version.

  4. So do you now reject the POV of your earlier book which boiled *all* stories down to desire? To a quest for the Grail?

    If you consider desire and fear to be completely different, then I expect the later parts of your class to have two different paths for those two different motivations. I realize you are only posting bullet points here, but it looks like you reverted to your earlier POV after you stated the dichotomy when you wrote

    “Your protagonists want something”

    Shouldn't that be “Your protagonists want or fear something”?

    I am not saying fear is insignificant. What I am trying to do is point out that fear and desire are like a glass that's half empty or half full.

    Suppose a character desires someone. That character may fear life without that someone.

    Conversely, suppose a character is afraid of being robbed, of losing his valuables. That character desires security.

    Any desire scenario can be viewed as a fear scenario, or vice versa. But do the two emotions exist in equal amounts in a character? Is a character driven more by fear or by desire? Could fear and desire be seen as opposite points on a single scale, like hot and cold? Taking the hot/cold analogy further, I could say that stories are driven by 'temperature' and the writer's job is to keep the mercury moving. Stasis is the enemy.

  5. No, I don't reject my previous arguments. I am refining it.

    I think you're over analyzing what I said here. Desire and fear are different emotions. One is longing , which is a reaching out emotion and the other is defensive or protective, a clinging and grasping emotion.

    The Grail argument, or object of desire is a different point. A grail is a device around which writers fixate the characters. The villain wants or has it, the hero wants or has it. One desires it it and the other fears losing it for some cataclysmic reason. Get it?

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