Album after album, he would bring new ideas and encourage others to do the same, then one day the well of invention suffered a dry spell. He realised that he was struggling to create new sounds or present artists in a way that had not been heard before. It's perhaps reasonable. He had, after all, already equipped hundreds of recordings with unique features, as had other producers. How many new approaches were there?
But he was not content to stand still. He decided that he and his colleagues needed something to help liberate their imaginations, and it was not long before he had created a tool for just that purpose. He called it Oblique Strategies and it was a wonderfully simple idea. He and some friends wrote down on a deck of blank cards a series of suggestions that were out of context but proposed a specific change to an unwanted aspect of the recording. Each card carried one idea for what to do when stuck, and they amassed dozens of them. Then in the studio, while mixing a track, whenever the results were feeling stale or tried, they would dip into this deck of ideas at random and try to apply the suggestion, however inappropriate it might seem. Eno has always been content to try ideas that might not work. He has never been afraid to throw them away if they don't work. Only the best make it to the released article.
That was the thinking, anyway, and it has served him well. One or two other professions have taken this principle and applied it, creating sets of oblique strategies of their own. I wondered if it might be a useful aid while I am revising early drafts. Has anyone else tried off-the-wall ideas for rewriting a scene? Or a whole novel, for that matter? Here are some of the ideas I have had for strategies:
> Find the weakest character in the story. Write a scene that makes her central to the plot.
> Find some poor dialogue and work out what is poor about it. Make that quality a feature of the character.
> Include a whole scene that is just narrative where dialogue would be expected, or write a scene that is just dialogue where narrative would be expected. Make the pacing work through the lengths of sentences and paragraphs and the rate of new information in them.
> Make a character that would normally be submissive dominant in one scene and show how that has happened.
> Identify the worst feature of a passage of writing and exaggerate it further to see if it can be used to advantage.
> Locate a source of dialogue repetition, where a character says the same thing multiple times to different people, and make her tell the story differently each time, making the character inconsistent in giving her story. Work out why she would do this.Is it helpful to try out ideas like this while revising? Or does it distract from the process? If you have tried an approach of this kind, how did it turn out?
Curiously... devoid of smut, this one.
Disappointed? I know, so am I.
I'll still swear though; can't be doing with all that clean language at my age. Fuck it.
Today I shall astound you with the wonderful world of EzWriting…
Some of you have read the first draft of Paradise Falls, my Hopeless Opus. For those of you that have been saved this misfortune I can say it is without doubt the worst tosh I have ever had the misfortune to have set eyes on – and I’ve read all the Dan Brown novels, so there’s a yardstick to beat me mercilessly over the head with. Now, I don’t necessarily revel in the rubbish I have written, but I am a gloatingly smug kind of person, especially when you realise that it is finished. It’s complete crap, but it is finished. I have the words “The End”, appropriately enough, at the end, and prior to that there are some one hundred thousands words; some are real, some are imaginary and most are found in what can be considered “sentences” by any six year old. This is important for many reasons; one, I never finish anythi
(See what I did there? Chuckle.)
Ahhh, anyway… So I have a “complete” collection of words.
Do you notice the care I am taking with collective nouns? I shall
endeavour to refrain from calling it a “novel” because that has a
tendency to romanticise the scrap paper it is currently printed
on. And, some of you are aware that I have been systematically
reading, editing and refining those words for at least a year
My current exercise is, because PF is written entirely in the first person perspective, to write every single scene from the perspective of every single character in it and then to merge those together. To achieve this I have employed the use of a little (free) program called YWriter5. This expects you to either, in your original Word document, delineate scenes by special characters (which I have not) or to cut and paste every single “scene” (which I am doing).
The truth is, reading tripe created by mine own hand is bad enough, but having then to analyse it too, is a nightmare. But it is absolutely amazing what you learn from it. I have learned, for instance that I have the attention span of a gnat. I’m in a deeply moving, serious and important scene and then bam! I’m off flying over rubblised fortresses and poking chicken spits in people’s arse’s. I have whole scenes that consist of two fat blokes running after another bloke, lasts for three (granted tortuously long) sentences and then terminates. And I don’t do this once, oh no, the whole bloody manuscript is full of the sodding stuff. I have more scenes than the whole Lord of The Rings Trilogy put together. Throw in the soon to be released “The Hobbit” and hey presto! I’ll still have more bloody scenes.
So the culling begins… and this is where it gets interesting; if my whole writing premise is to make you buggers laugh, then where’s the snigger when an old fella dies of fright? With a metaphorical wave of the inky wand, ‘tis gone and with it, about seven hundred words that set it up, pad it out and warm it’s jets. Nice. Character list is now down one old fella and I’m off and running again.
YWriter5 (and this is not an advert, I promise) also wants characters, locations, objects and plots listed against scenes too. It is with this toolset (still to be done, sadly) that I shall reduce my mountainous pile of locales, my scrofulous pile of characters and curiously my complex box set of plots. I won’t say interwoven neatly into the novel. It’s more, thrown in with gay abandon and left to fester where they fall.
So that’s what I’ve been doing these past weeks… what about you? How have you been?
Good morning everyone :)
Following on from yesterday's question, and Mike's answer about using internal bookmarks... what are your absolute favorite tools for writing?
I have four that I use, depending on what I am writing.
1. A really good pen and a fresh pad of paper. Maybe that shows my age, but there are some times when just seeing the handwritten words appearing on the page which is very encouraging and, I think, inspires me to write a different kind of story.
2. For non-fiction, I generally use MadCap Flare.
3. For fiction, I use Power Structure.
4. Finally, I just recently discovered Write-or-Die, a nifty, goading website that keeps me writing at the desired pace. I used it to get through NaNoWriMo and plan to continue using it as it does seem to help me produce a quite different kind of story.
I know that there are countless other tools, from Q10 to Word. Which one is your favorite?
Outlining and draft building
- Any outlining mode in word processors
- Draft Builder helps your students develop a strategic approach to planning, organizing and draft-writing.
Tools for specific genres
See also idea managers (there is quite a lot of overlap)
- Story writing
- WriteThis. The tool generates writing exercises, based on a set of keywords and criteria. It can generate characters, locations, items and special rules, and you - the writer - have a specified number of minutes to combine these things into a story.
- QuickStory 5 (A free version is QuickPlot ) ?
- Wordprocessing for writers
- RoughDraft has features specifically designed for creative writing: novels, short stories, articles, plays and screenplays.
- yWriter, Story writing software (by Simon Haynes, free)
- Argumentation and dialog
- Scholarly writing
- Collaborative writing and documentation
- Google Docs for educators - online collaborative document creation and sharing
- ThinkFree - online collaborative document creation and sharing
- Storyboard software for films
Guidelines can classified as tools.
- Online Technical Writing
- Fifty (50!) Tools which can help you in Writing
- Word and the Writing process (good advice for using MS Word ... also
Index of writing tools