Monday, September 6, 2010

Ranting About Formula

Nothing drives me nuttier than a formulaic platitude. Like this one. "A story must have a compelling reason to be told."
What exactly does that mean?

I've read many books I thought absolutely sucked, that someone else had to think were wonderful, to get published. Tastes are not universal. They do not follow a formula.

I formerly taught project management. I followed the curriculum, and groaned hourly. The contention that if you follow a formula, everything will work peachy makes my skin squirm. I've never met two people alike. Project management is about getting PEOPLE to do what they don't necessarily want to do, or have the resources to do. You have to find what motivates the individual.

Does a piece have a compelling character(s)?
Does it have an interesting setting?
Does it have a believable (for genre) and entertaining story?

Those are subjective questions that make sense, when you're dealing with intellectual and emotional tastes.

Don't give me a platitude. It rings hollow. And ticks me off.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac
http://home.roadrunner.com/~macwheeler/

4 comments:

  1. "I've read many books I thought absolutely sucked, that someone else had to think were wonderful, to get published. Tastes are not universal. They do not follow a formula. "

    Oh I so second that emotion!

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  2. I enjoyed your rant, Mac. I completely agree with you. Have a great Labor Day!
    -James

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  3. Since I gave up impressing people years ago, I think a book's purpose is to entertain without annoying one's internal editor.

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  4. 1. Limit the number of words between quotation marks in dialog to eleven;
    2. Have at least three paragraphs to a double spaced page;
    3. Reconsider all adverbs with more than two syllables;
    4. Chapters should begin distinctly and conclude completely;
    5. More than five named characters in a novel are easily too many;
    6. More than three named characters in a short story are probably too many;
    7. No matter how great a character is, give him/her a flaw or fifty;
    8. If a piece doesn’t have a significant female presence, it’ll be harder to sell and a lot less interesting;
    9. Pen at least 500,000 words before you think of yourself as a writer;
    10. You’ll regret publishing your first novel after you’ve had four others in print. Get over it.

    Oh, yeah... never mind rules.

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