Managing Plot and Subplot

I watched three TV episodes this week about teams of good guys battling a mastermind who communicated with minions using ear coms. Two of them aired in the past week, the other is several years old, but the basic plot was the same: bring down the mastermind. The difference was in the way the stories used their subplots, and it was a big difference.

(Important Note: This is NOT a writing technique, it’s a critical approach. Don’t do this for your own stories, it’ll make you insane.) Continue reading

The Romance Contract

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I’ve been e-mailing with Pam Regis, Argh’s Academic in Residence, about the romance contract, the agreement that romance writers make with their readers. From Pam’s first e-mail:

The unspoken contract in romance fiction is that the parties to the courtship will end up together. They’ll overcome whatever barriers there are to that ending-up-together and commit to each other. For most of the genre’s history, the outward sign of that commitment was marriage–no longer a requirement, although still quite common.

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Arrow Thursday: Protagonists

Since my obsession with Arrow doesn’t seem to be abating, I’m going to put up a post the day after the show airs for the rest of this season. I’ll try to talk about writing craft, but sometimes you just have to say, “Oliver, you dumbass, you deserve everything you’re going to get for that.” But first, this:

Community Rules: Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Do not say somebody is wrong, say “I respectfully disagree.” Any comment that refers to anyone in a derogatory way is going to get trashed. Any comment in a sarcastic, snide, or demeaning tone will be trashed even faster. Any comment that refers to Oliver as a man-whore is okay.

Of course, the show isn’t coming back until Feb. 26, so maybe this is a good time to look at some of the major aspects of the story in general. Like, say, Our Protagonist, Oliver Queen. Continue reading

Sharp Soap: Why I’m An Arrow Fangirl

I’ve been on a writing wonk tear recently. I had two books going at once, and both were blocked, so I threw myself into good TV, trying to find a different way into story and ended up with a third book because I’ve become so fascinated by episodic storytelling. I’ve been taking apart everything I’ve been watching, trying to see how it works or doesn’t work, and there are several series I’ve been particularly fascinated by because of the choices their showrunners make, good and bad. I’ve learned a lot from Sherlock, Life on Mars, and Person of Interest among others, but the show that has reawakened my old zest for storytelling is an over-the-top superhero series that I started watching because I was stuck in a rental house and losing my mind. It took me a couple of episodes to notice what the writers were doing on Arrow, but once I wrapped my mind around it, I realized that there was a lot the show could teach me if I was just open to it. If I had to use one word to describe the showrunners and writers behind Arrow, it would be “fearless.” Also, possibly “drunk,” because these people will go anywhere. Continue reading