The SolAARium: Discuss the craft of writing - Alphabetical Index in the 1st Post

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Originally posted by Secret Master
Ahhh, thats why I love this forum. I think we have used the term a priori about 546,093 times during this discussion. And it has even been used correctly. It almost makes me nostalgic for my ol' epistemology course...

Make that 546,094. I notice that you say almost too. :p

Believe it or not, I actually read Kant and Descartes (and IIRC Aristotle used that term as well although I'm not sure if he was the first) for pleasure when I decided that I ought to get a little philosophy into my life. BIG mistake! :D

As far as I'm concerned, a posteriori (sp?) makes my brain hurt less. :)

I was wondering, Chris, have any of your characters ran away on you? That is, have they stopped behaving like you intended, and started taking on a life of their own in your writing?
Not so much "run away" and more a case of finding that I either want to revise my original intentions for him to make him more interesting or act more rationally; or else that once I've placed him in a situation and established his modus operandi, he will almost write himself - if that's what you mean.
 

Valdemar

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Originally posted by MrT

Not so much "run away" and more a case of finding that I either want to revise my original intentions for him to make him more interesting or act more rationally; or else that once I've placed him in a situation and established his modus operandi, he will almost write himself - if that's what you mean.

MrT, I *think* I've asked you before, but what happens then when your characters due to a long story deviates from your detailed plotline/preplanned personalities?

One deviation would then lead to deviations in the responses, which again signals subtle deviation in the personalities of the respondent and so on? Or do you keep it all under tight control all the time? If so how do you avoid that it gets a bit stale once you're past the first 100 installments?;)

This then begs a second question;) (for all of you) What happens when your characters interact with other writers? Most of have either had guest writers or taken part n some sort of collaborative work?

V
 

unmerged(6777)

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I try to keep the story line fluid enough to accomodate minor deviations where possible. My usual workig process now is:

1. Develop overall rough plot line
2. Develop necessary characters to carry the plot
3. Begin to flesh out plot line and subdivide it into sections with somewhat greater detail - enough to know pretty closely what needs to happen over a series of several posts. This ends up as a long list of "to do" tasks.
4. Begin detailed sketch of the first 10 posts or so.
5. Begin writing. As I write, I gradually begin preparing the future posts and make any slight adjustments necessary due to new ideas that I might have while I"m writing.
6. Resist urge to make any large deviations if I suddenly have an idea that is extremely different. Instead, I make a note of the idea for possible use in a future AAR instead.

In general, though, I try to keep it under pretty tight control. I don't find it getting stale (for me at least) since there is still the challenge of conveying the information and plotline while writing. On occasion it becomes a little bit of a chore, but certainly nothing I can't slug my way through.

* * * * *

If I have characters interacting with others it becomes a significantly different type of writing exercise - one of the things that makes the Free Company such an amazing thing to participate in (there's another $1 for you LD :)). This requires fast, reactive writing and is an extraordinarily good skill to learn since it tends to improve your "regular" AAR writing immensely. The trick there is to actually role play it...put yourself in the character's shoes to see how you think he'd react. That's why you really can benefit from a well thought out character and/or one who has a lit of similarities with the RL you. (I notice that Craig does an excellent job with the Bey. Maybe there's something he should be telling us about himself. :eek: :D)
 

Norgesvenn

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My take on this is rather easy.

1) Find a subject that you want to write about.
2) Write
3) Do some research, and check details
4) Incorporate new findings
5) Read
6) Re-write
7) Post
8) Have a beer

:)
 

Valdemar

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MrT, Craig and I had a discussion on that exact subject on the FC OOC thread. We both roleplay our characters extensively, building our posts during the day, acting them out, long before we post.

What makes it interesting is that both of us has characters that has to react to others often, despite the fact that we prepare our posts mentally first :)

V

Edit, norg, from some of your past postings I would have thought there was plenty of the last number spaced out in between ;) :D
 

Director

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I have a general sense of where I want my current story to go, but I'm constantly trying to plot out how to get there. I have noticed that I tend to write in 'scenes', short vignettes like a battle scene with a little explanatory exposition in between. Anybody else noticed this? And do you like it, or not, and does it detract from the story, as opposed to a less choppy style?

'As The Spirit Moves Me' was redirected several times, as I kept trying to move the story according to a preconceived plot only to realize my character's integrity was being faulted. I wanted him to do things that just weren't in his nature, so the plot had to be repeatedly recast. I think it suffers from the 'zig-zag' nature of the plot twists, but I did try to stay true to his character.

Some of my better writing comes from 'putting myself' into the scene and imagining what my character might do, and what the consequences of his actions might be.
 

Gaijin de Moscu

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...and I, on the other hand, would really love to participate in the FC because I am fascinated with the idea. I have even approached LD with a character sketch :eek: but still have not gathered enough courage to dive in... :D Mebby I will go to the Tavern first!

Anyway. Back to the (recent) topic of this conversation, I have a different model from MrT and Norg:

1. Get bored with work (or whatever I am doing).
2. Launch EU and fiddle around with it a bit to get into the feel (or not, if I don't have it in front of me).
3. Suddenly feel that something stirrs inside my mind (or not, then go on with #1 or 2).
4. Write (or not, then 'save it' - which means forget it).
5. Brouse interent for some supportive pics.
6. Write more based on the pics, if they're inspiring.
7. Post.
8. Hit re-load button, untill it breaks, to see reactions.
9. Get abused (or blessed?) by a bit of alcohol now and then (here I am very close to Norg's writing style).

I don't do research for my last AAR because it's based on the material I've collected for my 'novel' in the last 2 years.

As you see from above, I deviate all the time, and almost never have a clear idea of what I am writing. Then, suddenly, the page screams to me: 'This is what it was about! Look! Do you like it?'

As Rocky alluded, as long as we have clear ideas of characters, the story comes along; and as Director said, the most inspired pieces are those where you imagine (i.e. hallucinate ;) - this is where bourbon helps).

My characters 'run away' from me almost every time. My favourite exercise it to 'put' the character into an armchair in front of me, give both of us a drink, and talk, resembling a bit the King of Gluttonic Knights with his l'Eminence Grise. This way, they 'control' their thoughts, actions, and futures, as separate people.
 

HolisticGod

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All,

Interesting question...

I tend to work on AARs (and the FC, back when...) after having a smashingly good time, and that usually entails a heavy bit of drinking... Therefore, nothing is really "under control," which also happens to be the way I write in other areas, and typically I'm as surprised as anyone else by what my posts turn into. For those wondering about how Hitchhiker's came into being, there you go. (and hold on tight, because it's about to get a whole lot stranger-Christmas parties going by like smoke stacks in Manchester)

Also, my updates are often too brief and always too hurried. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time to work on them as thoroughly as I'd like. Spot check editing is about the best I can do, and that means sloppy first drafts are what make it out the gate.

C'est la vie...
 

Storey

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Originally posted by MrT


If I have characters interacting with others it becomes a significantly different type of writing exercise - one of the things that makes the Free Company such an amazing thing to participate in (there's another $1 for you LD :)). This requires fast, reactive writing and is an extraordinarily good skill to learn since it tends to improve your "regular" AAR writing immensely.

One of the joys of the early days of the Free Company was getting on line and finding the FC in the middle of a battle and maybe LD, Bloomfield, Rictus and others also on line. There would then be an intense half hour or more of everyone posting at the same time. The routine generally followed with me mouthing obscenities at someone who beat me with an update that forced me to franticly rewrite what I was going to post. When this happened it left me as tired as if I had run a 100-meter dash, which then caused a yearning for a good stiff drink. In reading the latest chapter of the FC it appears that there is less of this simultaneous writing and more deliberate posting that lends itself to more in-depth interactions of the characters.

Joe
 

unmerged(6607)

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Well, since I blundered into posting my routine at the bAAR.. oh what the heck, why not put it back here?

1. Come up with an idea for a story.

2. Try to figure out a way to play EU2 to fit that story.

3. Play complete game, with my trademark Copious Notes.

4. Plan out characters and storylines.

5. Outline each individual post I want to make.

6. Start typing.


And for individual posts, the only important thing is that there's no sound when I write except the mood music I've picked out. I'm neurotic.
 

Director

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My 'method' has differed, and since I've only written 1 1/2 AARs, that doesn't give me much continuity of approach.


'As The Spirit Moves Me' was written after working out a 'hook', that of an immortal narrator. I just hadn't read widely enough to know that sort of approach had been done already by others. :D Had I known what I was getting into, I'd NEVER have tried it.

I did discover part-way along that my 'style' was dull to the point that cows in the next county were keeling over in broad daylight. So I stuck in a scene in a ruined castle in Scotland with lightning and Templar treasure, and I think it got a bit better after that.

I picked my country - England - with care because it was one I knew something about. The AAR certainly doesn't contain any gameplay on my part that's worthy of notice.

But I played the whole game and wrote the entire AAR before I posted any of it, which is why it went up on the board so quickly. Just ask MrT about it - he got it all in his email one day right after having an eye injury! Heaven save you from the enthusiasm of the clueless, MrT!

Not a good thing to post so much so fast, I was told at the time, and I've come to agree.

But research - oh, my, yes. There are whole layers of research in that one which underlie things as simple as characters' names. GOOGLE IS MY FRIEND!


Again with 'Who Wants To Be Napoleon' the 'gimmick' came first, that of a history and gaming oriented theme park. Add a dash of pop culture, monomania and the Emperor of France, and - voila!

I'm playing this one as I write, staying about a year ahead of what I'm writing about. I try to sit down and write at least a bit every night, and I reread - every night - everything that hasn't already been posted. And I polish, and polish, and polish. So I have no explanation for why it's no better than it is except that it's better than the first draft.

The biggest difficulty with the HistoryPark series is that it takes LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of explanation about the background. And of course I don't know when to stop... :p
 

Gaijin de Moscu

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Director, that's quite an insightful description of the creative process. I can see you smiling as you wrote that :)

How do you come up with these posts that create such a good mood? :D

Just a point on your background comment - I actually quite enjoy your writing on background. Kills my guilt factor at reading your AAR at work - I can always then say 'well, true that I did not launch this and that programme, but I learnt a lot about Napoleonic warfare!' :D ;)

Advance warning: in my next couple of posts, I'd like to:
1. Come back to the topic raised by Storey - self-reflection in Russian literature, - with a quick review;

2. And suggest a new topic ('use of adjectives in AAR dialogues'):
- 'Do you love me?' he asked nervously.
- 'No,' she answered drily.
- 'But why?' he moaned unhappily.
- 'Because you are a silly young man,' she replied coldly. 'And your car sucks.'
- 'Gimme a chance!' he pleaded passionately.
- 'Kiss off,' she said intensely.

- etc.

Hope these two can raise some interest?
 

Lord Durham

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For me a typical AAR goes something like this:

1) Pick a Country
2) Choose a narrative style/ decide on length of AAR (First decides the second)
3) Play anywhere from 5 to 10 years at a time
4) Research, research, research
5) Write
6) Edit, proof, edit, proof
7) Post
8) Rinse/cycle/repeat

I prefer total silence and solitude when I write.


Gaijin - my thoughts on your subject of adjectives in dialogue. In a word: Don't!

I have touched on the issue of writing dialogue before, and in fact I was planning on making it an exercise, but when my last exercise generated such little response I decided to shelve it.

In a nutshell, dialogue is one of the hardest things to write. Believable dialogue is even harder. The use of adjectives in dialogue is a hindrance, rather than an aid. If you can write dialogue between two or more people, and get away with one or two 'he said', 'she said', then you are doing well. Good dialogue immerses the reader so they know who speaks without having to point out the speaker. (make sense?)

Read a typical passage of dialogue from SM's 'Castile' AAR. You will note how the dialogue itself conveys the story. SM uses very few dialogue pointers. If I can be so bold, read my dialogue in the 'Portugal' AAR. I use virtually no dialogue pointers, and yet I bet you know exactly who the speakers are.

A trick is to establish your speakers with a couple of initial 'he saids', then remind the reader who is talking by describing an action. It's far more effective and presents a visual reference that enhances the setting.

For example, the following passage was something I wrote in the early days of the FC. Note how few character pointers I use after establishing the intitial speakers. The latter part of the post is almost entirely dialogue driven:


Captain sat in the Locanda del Edgewater with Lochlan, Jacques and Alv. Out of old habit, Jacques was taking notes.

"Officers. We're low on officers," Captain said. "We've recruited a fair amount of men, but most of them are unknown quantities."

"There's the Rooster," Jacques noted.

"Yeah, right. Let's go over this, then. Jacques, you are now a Lieutenant."

"Huh?"

"New lieutenants buy the ale," Alv piped in. He received a withering glare.

"Congratulations. Now, what do we have in the way of infantry?"

"Er... thanks, I think. We have... ah, about 600 now, and 300 crossbowmen."

"900?" Alv's voice was a squeak. "Oh, right, we got the latest arrivals camping outside the city walls now. Heh, just like the old days."

"Since we'll be dealing with a mobile enemy I'm going to suggest a slightly different mix for the ground troops. I want you to take those 300 crossbowmen and blend them in with the infantry."

"What?"

"Huh?"

"How come?"

"Simple. We'll never engage the Turk with infantry, not unless he wants us to. However, nothing will stop them from advancing, loosing their arrows, and retreating out of harms way. To protect the infantry we will have to mix in the crossbowmen. Once that's done, the infantry will become a walking hammer, capable of keeping the Spahis at a distance, unless they're looking for a bloody nose. Only then can we use our cavalry without worry."

The officers appeared skeptical.

"Who among you has fought the Turk? Right, just as I thought. The Crusades proved the superiority of fast moving cavalry. We must take away that superiority."

"I'll see to it," Lochlan said.

"Good. Make sure they practice covering each other. I'm sure Roos will see the advantage in this setup. Speaking of Roos, he will be made lieutenant and given command of the left wing. Lochlan, you will take the right. Alv will remain under your command. Jacques, you'll command the reserve, for now. Alv, take the infantry recruits under your wing."

Alv reached for the roster sheet. He mumbled some names, "That will mean Fyrsil ap Faolan, Armin Schauenburg, Tomas son of Stroph, Dekkeret von Lichtenstein, Hendrik Johan Tulp, Vincent Kincaid..."

"How is this Kincaid?" Lochlan asked. "His partner and him looked pretty beat up."

"They'll live, though I think in all honesty they're running from someone."

"Aren't we all. How about the cavalry, Captain?"

"That's a bit of a problem at the moment. We have the Mongols, the Moors and the Bedouin, in addition to the collection of local men-at-arms presently drifting in. The men-at-arms will form one wing... how many men, Jacques?"

"At least 400, and counting."

"400 and counting. We'll need a good leader."

"How about Severus?"

"I don't think so. He's better suited to hit and run tactics."

"You don't mean the Moor and the Mongols?"

"That's exactly what I mean. He's been twiddling his thumbs for the past few days, and I'd rather put his knowledge to work. We'll make him Lieutenant of the light cavalry, and we'll let the Mongols and Moors keep their commands intact."

"How about the Bedouin?"

"They've been trouble since they arrived, and they seem to have trouble with authority. I can't take camels into battle - not where we're going. If I can't convince them to use horses then I'll have to cut them loose. Now, how about the archers?"

"About 200 bowmen and 100 longbowmen. They're still coming in, though."

"Longbowmen. We sure could use lots of those. I'll need a commander, too. Later - anything else?"

"We still have some new faces showing up. Any new infantry we should put under Alv, until someone distinguishes themself enough to warrant a promotion."

"Agreed."

"And there's the question of Frank Verbeeldt."

"Who?"

"Frank Verbeeldt. He's a bard who arrived a few days ago with another man. He's about 50, but he's practiced in medicine."

"Medicine? Good. He'll ride with the baggage train. Speaking of baggage train, what's Annette up to these days?"

'What do you mean?"

"I mean I need someone with her organizational skill to keep us in food and stock."

"I can ask."

"Do that. She'll keep Constance company."

"Huh?"

"Who do you think will write our story and keep the books? Besides, I had no choice. Now, anything else?"

"How about transportation?"

"I'm expecting a response from the Cyprian anytime now..."



It takes practice to write effective dialogue. I'm not saying mine is perfect, or that I have all the answers, but I do know that I have studied dialogue techniques and I work hard at making mine believable.

Discuss amongst yourselves. :)
 

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Adverbs with dialogue are your sworn enemy. If I use more than one or two every thousand words, I'm doing something wrong, if I may use my own standards. Of course, I'm a writer who tends tempermentally to rely more on description and nonverbal action than dialogue to tell stories, which may or may not be because of relative ineptitude at the task of writing believable dialogue.

Now, going back to a comment of Director's;

How much is too much? I write so quickly and thoughts/ideas come to me with such speed that creating a full-size two thousand word post every day for a month isn't a problem (unless computer troubles physically keep me from that, such as now). Is that, aesthetically, overkill?
 

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Originally posted by Rocky Horror
Now, going back to a comment of Director's;

How much is too much? I write so quickly and thoughts/ideas come to me with such speed that creating a full-size two thousand word post every day for a month isn't a problem (unless computer troubles physically keep me from that, such as now). Is that, aesthetically, overkill?
I have to take a plea on this - I read very quickly. With most fiction, I can polish off a full novel in an afternoon (technical writing takes more time for comprehension since most of it is written to confuse rather than to inform).

I do think that more people than not prefer smaller posts (IE not 20 pages), many paragraph breaks (not 150 lines in one lump) and so forth. It can be daunting to spend a few days away, log on, and suddenly be staring at forty unread pages :) - or so I've been told. And all my comments have been aimed at me; I like your writing just fine. Missed you when you skipped a day.

Gaijun de Moscu - if I smile at my own shortcomings then others are less likely to rub my face in them. :p

If you want to talk about Russian literature, I'd be very glad to hear from you.

Lord Durham - I think too many descriptors in dialog tend to give it a 'pulp fiction' feel:

"I've got a laser pistol," he shot back lightly.
"You're my hero!" she squealed piggishly.
"This is purple prose!" he shouted floridly.
"We're sore pressed," she replied with irony.

If the humor is intentional - ie Adams, Pratchett, then that's different, and it can be a good technique.

Otherwise, I'd try to limit it to a situation where a statement might be taken several different ways, and then only if there is no other good way to indicate meaning.


Can someone teach me to write humor and comedy? Sarcasm I've got :rolleyes: and irony I've been hit by once or twice. Puns - well - let's don't go there, Gentleman's Agreement on the NonProliferation of Puns and all that.

But humor is the absolute hardest thing I've ever tried to do.
 

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Gaijin,

I think, re: dialogue pointers, that it's a question of what you're trying to accomplish, of context. In genre fiction, dialogue usually takes a bow to relentlessly active paragraphs (mystery, pulp, action of course) and/or deep description (Science Fiction and Fantasy, though I'm a little short on both). Though I don't particularly care for any of them, I do appreciate the focus on narrative over snappy, realistic conversation, which is more an adornment than anything else. Pointers tend to be overused because they can be without overflowing the text.

In most literary fiction, pointers are absolutely awful to read and the mark of an amateur writer who adopts his style directly from remedial guide books or classic literature translated through six languages by other amateur writers into a nightmare of adjectives and puns the original author wouldn't even recognize. At best, it clogs, at worst it turns even an otherwise brilliant piece of work into purple trash. There's just too much dialogue and dependence upon fluidity.

In humor, it doesn't much matter one way or another. The ambition of a humorist is, insightfully enough, to write for as many laughs as he can get, as big as he can get them. If pointers aid in that, they can and should be used. If they don't, then they shouldn't. And within a single short story it's possible to do both. Inconsistency, too, is in-bounds and perfectly normal.

That said, I essentially agree with LD and Rocky... Well-placed verbs and noun descriptions typically do more for dialogue than adverbs.

Director,

Dunno, I think your History Park is pretty damn funny in places. If that's unintentional, just pretend it isn't. :D

You'll be doing an HBO special by Thursday.
 
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As I've posted earlier I do a lot of thinking before I make a post, I can go on a whole day creating and recreating small parts of a post inside my head, down to the individual dialoges.

In the end however I don't write those details down, I simply use them to create an atmsophere and feel for the post I'm planning, so when I finally get in front of the keyboard I usually start all over only retaining the mood I've created during the day.

Most of my posts are written in the course of several hours, because I usually type them at work, or at home while taking care of my son (he's three that makes for a lot of interruptions :) )

As to conversations I really try heard to avoid them unless they sound right. Seriously I do mean sound right. :) As I type them I act them out inside my head trying very hard only to describe physical action that goes on (movements, nods, grins etc.).

If I feel it gets to stiff I refrain from conversations and describe what took place instead, but sometime you really need conversations, especially when your character has to interact.

I just thought of something, how do you guys handle the gesturin that usually goes on when people talk? I mean nobody ever stands still just talking, a lot takes place in "body language".

I try really hard to sprinkle short describtion all over my conversations, but sometimes I wonder if they confuse more than aid??

V
 

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Body language is probably very hard to get right. I tend away from writing things like;


"I love this thread." muttered the first man.

"Do you? I think it's a living hell."

And towards things like this;

The first man slumped against a wall, rubbing his face wearily. Through gritted teeth, he said, "I love this thread."

The other man, meanwhile, favored the first with a baleful glance, and snorted. "Do you? I think it's a living hell."


The first is shorter, and looks more like traditional dialogue; the second, although it risks being somewhat too florid, gives you a crystal-clear imagining of what these two people are doing, and HOW they're saying what they're saying; tone of voice is as important as context, and in plain writing the only way to convey tone-of-voice without those nasty adverbial pointers is to give copious body language.
 

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Something else I just thought of that really doesn't fit into the prior discussion, but my own flighty mind lit upon it anyway.

A short exercise.

Take a book you've already read, or read enough so that you know it *REALLY WELL*. Reread it if you want, paying attention to it.

Ask yourself things about it.

Why do you like it?

Why don't you like it?

What's the author trying to do in each part?

How well does it succeed?

What would you do differently?


And so forth.

I did this just yesterday, finished Bram Stoker's Dracula (Best vampire book ever, by the by).

What do I like?

I like the general atmosphere of desperation that soaks into every page. You can almost feel how panicked the "heroes" are, how they feel in their gut how if they fail, their world has effectively ended.

I love the brilliant way Stoker can paint a physical scene and describe things. It's awe-inspiring, if you just read the first few chapters up until the action shifts back to England. You really have a mental picture of what those wooded hilly Transylvanian areas are like, of the superstitious peasants, the coachman, Count Dracula and his castle, etc. The man could describe with the best.

What don't I like?

Stoker, bless his pointed little head, had no bloody idea what the word "characterization" means. There are three characters in the book; An evil one, a good one, and one who loves to get drunk but is really a lovable chap despite that. However, there are 5 or 6 carbon copies of the good character, and several evil ones, and gods know how many drunkards. Mina and Lucy, at least before the latter's unfortunate accident, are almost carbon copies of one another. Dr. Seward, Lord Godalming, and Quincey Morris are almost indistinguishable save that the latter's from Texas. And so forth.

I also dislike the stilted, hackneyed way the plot lurches unsteadily forward. The epistulary style, telling everything through documents, is... fun... but it doesn't work on an action-y plot.

What's the author trying to do?

I hope he's just trying to tell a mildly religious story about horror.

Did he succeed?

Indeed.

What would I do differently?

This is always the hardest to answer, because you've got a kind of natural reluctance to step on a dead author's toes. However, I believe the personal journals of the various characters could have displayed some inner faults and foibles to distinguish at least the five crusading heroes.
 

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Since LD mentioned me, I should chime in on dialog. Oh, who am I kidding? I would chime in anyway. Any excuse to sound like I know what I am talking about! :D



Pointers in dialog.... Argh!


On the one hand, if the writer is brilliant, then they are completely unimportant. As soon as you see the quote marks and read two words, you will know who is speaking; however, this is something that takes alot of practice. It also means having well developed characters who have a "speaking style."

As such, I have borrowed some techinques from various writers (ok, really just two) that help provide pseudo-pointers that do not interrupt the flow of the work. They keep things straight while not being "pulpy" or amateur.

1) Have your characters notice things other characters are doing/saying, rather than have the narrator do it directly. For example:
******************************************
"So, how was the opera last night?"

"Oh, it was great. You know how those Itallian ladies are."

"Yeah, I sure do. They don't hold a candle to your lovely wife, though."

Why is he grinning like that? Is that pompous bastard the one who is cuckolding me? Why I aught to...
**********************************

In this scene, we get a "pointer" to what both characters are doing by letting the husband tell us his thoughts.


2) Use stage directions: Rather than having a direct pointer, have suggestive stage directions. (Suggestive in a non-sexual way....
:rolleyes: )

For example:

"So, how was the opera last night?"

"Oh, it was great. You know how those Itallian ladies are."

"Yeah, I sure do. They don't hold a candle to your lovely wife, though."

Joe was grinning in a self-important way while Chris shuffled his feet with nervous anger.

**********************************

Even if it was not clear who was speaking, and it happens to the best of us, I assure you, the stage directions tell us what is going on. As a general rule, when using stage directions, have a stage direction right after the lines spoken by a character. If the stage direction is multiple, list the last speaker first.




As my readers no doubt will claim, I prefer lots of dialog to narrative passages, but that is just my style. Dialog and narrative serve different purposes in writing, and one is not "better" than the other. My general rule is that dialog is the primary vehicle for character devleopement. (Dialog includes inner monologes of the character's thoughts). Narrative, which I use minimally, is a tool for establishing setting, and for alerting the reader to the importance of something. If I spend a lengthy paragraph talking about some object, then it must be important.