Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Yeargency (pronunced 'yer-gents-see)

When it comes to literary terms, I feel most of them should be terminal, dying a lonely death and never being heard from again. I mean, we get shitastic cliches like 'show don't tell' (a concept I'm proud to have blogviscerated, and yes, I'm going to that post every time until the world realizes they're embarrassing themselves by repeating that fecalrific mantra) or people who think saying 'your characterization was lacking, but I can't exactly say how' is engaged feedback of a manuscript. But yeargency is a term I think deserves a stay of execution.

What it is? Well, a wise man once told me that all great stories will have urgency and yearning. In my opinion (or he probably told me this too) urgency is built through yearning. When a character wants something, only then do we care what happens, as the character then has something to gain or lose. And when we care about a character, the relationship between what the character wants and the road blocks in the way of him getting it then creates urgency. It will feel like something is at stake, because, get this: there is something at stake (readers aint dumb).

So, yeargency. DO IT NOW PLEASE!

And I'm serious. On page one the reader should have some idea something is at stake. You don't have to spell it out for us (readers aint dumb), but it needs to be there. If your character is pining for a lost love, he doesn't need to think boy, I'm really experiencing pining for my lost love but he sure as shit better seem like he's pining for something or that something is missing and he's a likely piner.

We can learn later that it's lost love, since not all characters even know what they yearn for. But don't give me 10 pages of the character noticing all sorts of details about a bar and people's hair and talking to strangers and quipping wittily and then boom, he thinks boy, I miss my girl and all this time I've been pining for lost love.

Bullshit. That's not real pining... that's more pine in the sense of coffins, a pine box, because your story will feel dead and then the only thing at stake will be hoping a vampire is inside the coffin because any moron (or millions) will buy the story if it gots Vampars!(and there's a vampire-stake pun you may have missed).

So, in conclusion, stop writing shitty stories.

Every scene ask yourself what your character wants, what he'll do to get it, and what will stand in his way causing the character to go onto the next scene, still wanting, still doing, and still perhaps not getting. If you manage this in every scene then the story will at the very least feel urgent. Even if it doesn't all add up in the end, it at least won't feel like a collapse 'the point is there is no point' level waste of time. And hell, being mildly interesting is an important first step in the growth of a writer!

But, if each scene of your story doesn't have urgency, then please refer back to my conclusion, then, like a flow chart, continuing reading and re-reading until referring to my conclusion no longer applies... well, as much, and only until my next blog.

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