Chapter 14 put up a good fight. But today I won. Short, at just 2,027 words, but I met my goal and got out of the little rut my story was in.
I know what the problem was. In this segment Val has no choice but to be reactive. Meaning there’s not a whole lot that she is actually doing. She is watching things happen and responding to them.
It’s really hard to be interested in that, both writing and reading. I know it will get changed a bit in rewrite, but at least I’m through it, and things can start happening again!
Also, say goodbye to Ethan, at least for now. He won’t be having his own POV for the remainder of the book. At least as far as I know. Characters have a way of surprising me.
So, the novel currently sits at 32,111 words. Still feeling incredible about this! Especially since the original outline said chapter 14 was almost the end. Now it’s feeling more like the middle. I’m on track for a book well over 50,000 words and it feels great!
So, now that you’re all up to speed, let’s move on to Week 4!
This week we had a guest lecturer because Brandon had to tour for book signings and yadda yadda. Also this week, my purple pen died. This week’s notes are a nice, boring black.
Our guest lecturer was Howard Tayler (sorry if I spelled his name wrong). And the subject was humor. Tayler currently makes a living writing a sci-fi web comic called ‘Schlock Mercenary’. Interesting.
I had a really hard time with this lecture. It felt really long, but I didn’t take many notes. A short page and a half with a lot of white space. I don’t know if it was his lecture structure, the content, or my own lack of focus, but I just wasn’t super interested in this week’s lecture.
My fiance was, and has brought it up at least twice this week to me. But, Trevor is extremely interested in comedy. He loves stand-up, and likes to write and read funny stuff. So, even as he was playing Skyrim, Trevor took mental notes of my Write About Dragons lecture. Talk about supportive!
Ok, we started by talking about Subverting Expectations in Humor. Brandon already talked a little about subverting expectations in your magic and endings. But only a little. Basically, you want to have the reader think they know what’s going to happen, and then turn it on its head. Brandon is really freaking good at this in his endings.
Tayler said that this is actually the key to all humor. It’s the unexpected twist that elicits a physical response. This actually works in horror too. Apparently comedy and horror are just opposite sides of a coin. Also, my typing is complete crap today. Sorry if errors make it through to the published version, my brain is apparently fried.
Tayler also said that you want to set up a scenario that allows the reader/listener to tell themselves a funnier joke than you could tell them. This also connects to the previously mentioned idea that you want the reader to be able to figure things out.
And then the notes thin out.
I wrote Establish Context… with absolutely no context. Irony.
Then I wrote Character Humor, followed by Ringworld by Larry Niven, followed by Puppeteers. Since I’ve never read Ringworld, this means very little to me, other than it has good character humor. It was a little bizarre, because a friend and coworker of mine, TWolfe, had recommended Larry Niven’s ‘The Draco Tavern’ to me just last week.
Ok, then I wrote Build Interesting Characters. God, these notes are vague. I jotted down that humor interrupts defense mechanisms.
Comic Drop- a point @ which somebody’s status changes.
I remember the example used here, and it was really good. The Big Bang Theory vs. Community. The Comic Drop in Big Bang is always on the nerd. AKA, the joke is almost always on the nerd. Whereas, in Community the nerds make the jokes. This directly reflects the viewership of both shows.
Then I wrote Surprising yet Inevitable, which makes me think of Firefly. You want the events in both your novel and your humor to be surprising, but in hindsight to have been the only way to go down.
Then I wrote down Terry Pratchett and Thomas Covenant. One’s an author, the other a character. I googled it.
Humor is a tension breaker.
Brevity is the soul of wit. This one made me think of The Way of Kings. There is a character, whom I love very much, named Wit. So far his purpose is to make fun of people. He’s hilarious and extremely quick. And he’s always joking. And then Brandon did something brilliant. He used Wit to convey a very serious message to one of the main characters. What this did, and I remember thinking this even as I read it, was make the message that much more serious. If another character, who isn’t as funny and carefree seeming as Wit told Dalinar that winds are changing and to take care in the coming weeks, it wouldn’t have hit either Dalinar or myself so strongly. But because it was from Wit, both the reader and the character are riveted. And then Wit vanishes, with no explanation. My brain relates this as a way to use humor as a juxtaposition. Or something like that…
Anyway, that’s where my notes end. Which is why I decided to supplement this week’s lecture by purchasing ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King.
I spent most of yesterday’s writing time reading instead. Not a good thing, but better than playing a video game or sleeping. I’ve highlighted much of the book so far, and surprisingly it really fits with this week’s lecture. King is a funny dude. And he does it quite naturally. He has a powerful voice, and the things he says are witty, and brazen. I love it. He really makes it feel as if he is talking to me. That we’re sitting together at my Starbucks, and we’re having a conversation about writing.
I haven’t finished it yet, so I won’t talk about it too much here. I plan on spending a lot of time with it tomorrow, hopefully finishing it. If I have time, I’ll post a summary then. But, I might need time to gather the topics I want to touch on, because there’s a lot inside this one book. And I still want to start chapter 15 tomorrow. And then, of course, there’s work. Ever present. Paying the bills so I can spend my every free moment in a world of my creation.
That’s a nod to Willy Wonka, in case you didn’t catch it.
On a totally separate note, I think I’m stressing about something. Even Trevor pointed it out. I’ve been picking at my lip. It’s this horrible nervous habit. Instead of biting my nails, which I do when I’m bored, I pick at a nonexistent spot on my lip, until it chaps. Sorry for the details, but it’s something I do. Also, I’m not eating as much. Not a conscious decision, just something I’ve noticed.
But, I’ve been writing almost nonstop. Or at least thinking about writing, or reading about writing, or workshopping other people’s writing.
Anyway, not sure what’s going on. I don’t think it’s anything worth worrying about, but I thought I’d mention it, because I think it’s tied to my writing. Weird.