"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, October 25, 2010

Writing from the Place: TEN THINGS FOUND IN ANY MANUSCRIPT

So I'm not sure how many of you know about my local writing group, but it's OSUM and fun and we meet at the coolest place. On a normal Friday I get together with K. A. Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson , E. Kristin Anderson, new member Madeline Smoot, and sometimes member Jenny Ziegler.
Yes, we talk about fun stuff. Yes, we get writing done. Yes, we listen to music from the 80s and read the graffiti on the walls (and there is lots and lots of it...). And yes, we come up with ridiculous lists.

Care of "The Group" from "The Place,"
here are ten things found in any manuscript:


1) A dog barking in the distance
Due to the paranormal craze, we'll stretch this to include werewolves, too.

2) A Star Trek reference


3) A head wound
A gash, a small cut, blood dripping warm on the face. You know you have one.

4) Some stupid joke which will not longer be funny after 50 revisions
So kill the darling early. No one else thinks it's funny from the start.

5) Something small to crawl through (like a secret tunnel or a ventilation shaft).
Make this a Jefferies tube, and you've got (2) taken care of, too.


6) A doorway/keypad/lock that's impassable that your character manages to pass.
Why? Because your character has to change the world. And how else is your character going to change the world if they can't get through that locked door or figure out the secret code.

7) Homage to a friend or teacher or family member or pet (Easter eggs)


No birthday is random in books. It's kind of like lottery numbers.
And names? It is no coincidence I named the bad guy in THE EMERALD TABLET after my ninth grade Geometry teacher.

8) Explosions or fire
When the middle of the book is sagging, blow something up. It's sure to make something happen to the plot.

9) Piercing or brooding eyes
Maybe think up some new descriptors for the eyes. And vary the arching and raising and narrowing while you're at it.


10) Typos
Yeah, maybe these aren't so good to have. But yet they exist. Always.

16 comments:

E. Kristin Anderson said...

EXPLOSIONS FOREVERRRRR!

Seriously. This list is win. I love our group!

Intelligent comment TK.

lotusgirl said...

Heehee. I wish I could join your group. It sounds fun.

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Love this! And OMG, yes!, I just thought through my manuscripts. Head wound, check. Fire, check. Impassable threshold complete with threshold guardians, check. Typos, invitable. Does Star Wars count? And this list? Priceless.

Martina

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Love this! And OMG, yes!, I just thought through my manuscripts. Head wound, check. Fire, check. Impassable threshold complete with threshold guardians, check. Typos, invitable. Does Star Wars count? And this list? Priceless.

Martina

Christine Marciniak said...

I don't think I have a Star Trek reference in this revision yet. I may need to work on that.

Oh - and nothing exploded yet either.

Cool - now I know what to work on for my revisions today!

Kelly said...

No Star Trek reference, but perhaps a Star Wars reference in mine!
I think I need to throw my mc down a tube so she wounds her head then explodes. ;)

PJ Hoover said...

And it all started with the head wound, Emily. What will we list next?

I wish you could, too, Lois! We'd have so much fun.

You are cracking me up, Martina! Like minds must think alike. And Star Wars totally counts!

Yes, Chris, now we know exactly what revisions need. This can be the checklist!

I love it, Kelly! It's just what's needed to raise the stakes a bit.

Karen Akins said...

Hanging head in shame.

PJ Hoover said...

LOL, Karen!

E. Kristin Anderson said...

Oh my gosh, it DID all start with the head wound. I still think headwound should be one word. Like so.

Christine Marciniak said...

The question is - whose headwound was it?

TerryLynnJohnson said...

this is so funny! Because it's true. sounds like a great group!

PJ Hoover said...

It is a good debate question, Emily.

A very good question, Chris. Maybe you need to reread my ms :)

LOL, Terry! I know! And the group is the best :)

Christine Marciniak said...

Tricia, which MS should I re-read? :)

PJ Hoover said...

Hmmm...good question. The Head Wound is probably in all of them.

Christine Marciniak said...

Which kind of proves your point, doesn't it? After all, you say these things are found in any manuscript!