Week 2 Update + Plans for Week 3

This week went smoother than the last, as I actually took notes from the Course and the Craft Book in order to write this post more eficiently, though I wish I had done the same with the Craft Element. Anyway, I’m happy with my improvements! This week is also the last one before me classes start, so I’ll need, more than ever, to organize myself to not only meet my goals but also balance them with my academic responsibilities.

Week 2 Update

Prompts: The prompts I use this week were:

  • You’re a knight travelling the far lands. The last people of a once great kingdom house themselves in a courtyard of rubble at the foot of their ruined castle [x]
  • You’ve been hired as a professional cleaner for the most powerful wizard in the world… but when you arrive at his house, you discover that he’s more of an old hook than people let on, and he hasn’t cleaned his house in DECADES [x]

I wrote 4403 words this week, 1998 words in the first prompt and 2045 words in the second! So far, this was the week I wrote most, and the first time I passed the 2000 words mark. I hope to continue working on writing longer stories.

Craft Book: Chapters 3 and 4 dealt with the creation of First Paragraphs and the art of Suspense, respectively.

The First Paragraphs are what lure readers to the story or novel and make them want to read it. They should establish the genre and tone of the story, present the author’s style, establish the main character, conflict and setting and, consequently, create expectations for the story. More importantly, though, as the author explains, the First Paragraphs must hook the reader into reading the story, creating the necessary interest for the reader to continue instead of abandoning ship. This is done by arousing the reader’s curiosity for a character, presenting an interesting setting, by shocking or surprising the reader, and/or by presenting a mystery.

Suspense, a feature of thrillers and mystery novels, and something that I absolutely want to learn to write, can be created in various ways:

  • presenting an imminent danger;
  • making fears come true;
  • generating conflict, either Internal (Alice vs Alice), Interpersonal (Alice vs Bob), and/or External (Alice vs Nature), and a type of conflict that can be created is the crucible, in which characters have a confrontation in a limited space or are put in a situation they can’t abandon;
  • having the characters make a critical choice;
  • through surprise, taking into account that good surprises help the character (though one should always be careful not to make them too convenient) and bad surprises generate conflict and tension, and that the surprise must always be foreshadowed, though not too obviously, so as to feel plausible and not like an asspull;
  • adding mystery (as a side note, the author explained the difference between suspense, in which the questions are answered in the future, and mystery, in which they are answered in the past).

The actual writing of suspense is done by switching between short sentences and quick dialog to speed up the story’s pace, and longer sentences to slow it down. You should also use action verbs, and avoid using too many exclamations and ellipsis. Ending chapters in cliffhangers and tense situations also help generate suspense, forcing the reader to immediately turn to the next chapter. If you want to turn up the tension even more, instead of solving that situation right away, have the following chapter deal with another plotline.

Course: This week’s theme was Details. Details in Description must be significant and specific, in order to present a mood and a clear meaning. Details are going to make people care about the story, even specific ones, because they help them visualize what you’re trying to tell them. It’s through the specific that you are able to reach a universal understanding.

Plans for Week 3

I hope to keep going like I did this week, and balance it with uni. For now, though, all I can do is go through the week and, in the end, see what I need to change during this sememster.

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