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[personal profile] lookingforoctober
Does anyone happen to know of any good essays / writing meta / I'm not sure what this is usually called... Writing advice? (except it doesn't have to be advice, it could be detailed analysis of something that exists and how it does one of these things) ...about the following topics?

1) antagonists and their role in a story (besides the stuff at arghink.com, which I already know about)
2) structures that aren't linear

I'm looking for real nuts and bolts kind of stuff, especially about the structures. Because whenever I see people talking about structures that aren't linear, they usually just sort of list them... Spiral structures or alternating structures, etc.

But what I want is how to write a spiral structure, what the pitfalls are, what makes a good or bad spiral structure, etc.

Date: 2014-04-13 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] torrilin
For antagonists... what have you read? (besides the Crusie stuff) And not just meta, are there any books, TV shows, plays or whatever where you paid a lot of attention to an antagonist?

Agents of Shield is a kind of disturbing class in how to not do an antagonist. They didn't really think a lot of their season plot through, like at all. Or if they did, the thinking was very detached from how the actual acting was working. And while I wouldn't say *I* could do better, I am 100% sure it's possible to do better with the material they had. I can't name all the classic mistakes they made, but there have to be names for what they did wrong.

Most of the stuff I've seen on non-linear structure amounts to "pick something you like that is non-linear, dissect it". Matt Fraction does it a lot, and occasionally he writes about it. I haven't seen Diane Duane dissect stuff, tho I'm pretty sure she can/has/does. Most of the Young Wizards books are fairly linear. I haven't watched most of her animation screenwriting credits, but TV in general is more forgiving of weird structural stuff. I know for sure I've watched all her star trek next gen screenwriting credits, but honestly my judgement on TV writing is terrible and I have no notion whether I actually liked any of her episodes. Spock's World (and really most of her novel Trek in general) is odd structurally and might be worth taking apart if you like her stuff. That said, her work for hire stuff tends to have lots of moving parts, so if Trek isn't your thing and you like some other work for hire she's done, try it instead.

Diana Wynne Jones might be another one to try for structural games, tho I think she usually played with POV more.

Date: 2014-04-13 03:33 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] torrilin
Ok, Fraction is easy. He has a tumblr. He posts writing stuffs on it. I can't remember if the direct page is readable, but all tumblr pages give off RSS that you can stick into a feed reader. I have not been reading those posts with the closest attention. My brain is wired funny, and one of the funny bits is I tend to handle linear well... weird. Like left to my own devices, a perfectly linear solution to the problem would strike most people as out of order. I can't remember if there are specific tags Fraction uses for his structural dissections.

For Shield, both! We have now hit their "big reveal". And the writing decisions that produced the "big reveal" are fkn STUPID. It is very broken and sad, but it didn't have to be broken and sad. Thus, I say it is a giant pile of what not to do when writing antagonists. (there's also a lot of what not to do when writing protagonists really)

Basically, Cap 2 gives a big reveal. Shield *is* Hydra. And then Tasha dumps carefully edited versions of all of Shield's databases on the internet. Not everything everything, because making every Shield employee on the planet vulnerable to identity theft is not cool. So the "spoilery" Apr 4 Shield episode well... it ain't spoilery. Not for Cap anyway. Their big reveal isn't Cap 2's big reveal. (I can't remember how you are on spoilers, I'm the YES PLEASE kind) My sister watched them as Shield and then Cap 2, and it really worked for her. They hit differently in that order, but neither order is bad The coordinated reveals are actually really good writing.

The *timing* on the reveals is shitty writing. And some of the overall story/world logic is shitty writing.

Since I don't watch much TV (um, yay weird brain wiring?) I can't help with Leverage. But Spike is actually worth looking at because the stated authorial intent of Mutant Enemy is that Spike was a horrible evil bad guy right up til he got the soul. And well, their intent may have been that, but for large chunks of the audience they did not achieve that. Looking at the factors that they didn't take into account or understand in writing Spike helps a lot in seeing why their intent failed.

Since you like Duane, pick some of her backlist to dissect. The woman can *write*. And she's been online a looong time and is very willing to address writing questions. She's on LJ/DW/Tumblr/Twitter etc.


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