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Blog Post on Storytelling

Discussion in 'Writers on the Web' started by BWFoster78, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    I'm quite proud of my blog post today. For one thing, it's not a regurgitation of how to use rules. Instead, I think it makes a good observation about the foundation of storytelling, and, hopefully, it does so in an entertaining fashion.

    If you care to take a look and let me know if you agree, the link is here:

    Good Decisions Are the Foundation of Good Storytelling | Brian W. Foster

    Actually, that's the link whether or not you care to take a look and tell me if you agree... :p
    HUnewearl Shiro likes this.
  2. HUnewearl Shiro

    HUnewearl Shiro Scribe

    I agree with you.

    The absolute bane of my life in secondary school English class, was that the teacher believed, without a doubt, that there was but one method to writing good fiction, regardless of the subject material that precedes it. Of course a foundation itself is often very similar no matter what building goes atop it, but the building itself can be wildly different to the one next to it.

    Really good blog post. ^^
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  3. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I'm going to play a bit of devil's advocate here. I can't help but feel like saying "Yeah, and?" when people say, "It depends." That's a pretty obvious answer even if it is true. For me, I prefer writers who give some advice to share techniques that have worked for them in their "it depends" situations. For example, when a certain writer wrote a horror story, they took one approach, but when they wrote a fantasy novel, they did another one. "It depends" isn't terribly helpful advice to me. Examples of what worked in different situations would be more helpful. That's why I've found Jim Butcher's posts about scene/sequel and posts I read about the Snowflake Method helpful because they present examples of things that have worked for others.
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver


    That's why I go on to say that answering the question isn't the point of the blog post; the point is that, if you're not asking the question, you need to be.
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Choice is something of a big deal in game design as well - specifically in character driven games like RPGs and MMOs. You'll want the players to have to make choices and you want these choices that matter. When a player makes a choice that can't be reversed they're investing emotionally in the choice. This transfers over into the character they're playing, making them more attached to the character and making them care more about the game.
    I'm uncertain about how this translates into writing, but I think to an extent it does. As a reader, you can't make any choices for the character (not counting the choice of whether to stop or to keep on reading), but as a writer you can. If you always make the choices the reader expects you to make your characters become predictable and boring. If you always make the unexpected choice your character may become confusing and hard to relate to.
    Yet choice is important and a balance between the expected and the unexpected needs to be found. You also need to consider which choices need to be made. Not all choices need to be shown to the reader, you can still tell a good story without them.

    In a short story I wrote recently I chose to show a lot of conversation between two characters. This turned out to be the wrong choice as it didn't move the story forward and it didn't add the right kind of depth to the world or the characters. However, it was also a choice I didn't think about. I wanted to write those conversations as they interested me, but I did not consider whether a reader would actually be interested in them. I didn't even consider that - I neglected to make the choice and in the end my story was worse off for it.

    I've heard the advice about what all scenes need to do: advance plot or world or character in a meaningful way, but I haven't really taken it to heart. It makes perfect sense to me from a theoretical standpoint, but in practice I didn't feel the importance of it. I ignored it when I wrote my short, because to me those conversations were important.
    I've now experienced the drawbacks of not following that advice in practice and I'm more likely to stick with it in the future.

    I think you're both right Brian and Phil. These choices need to be made - but a practical (real world) example would put more emphasis on why it's so important.
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver


    To me, the process of taking advice to heart takes time. No matter how many examples someone gives me of what I should do, it still takes me a while to internalize that advice.

    I don't disagree that examples are beneficial, but, for me, theoretical advice is so much more important. Once I discover a Principle of Writing, it changes the way I approach writing. Sure, it takes time for me to figure out all the intricacies, but the very discovery is what starts me on the path.

    I do examples in posts all the time. Hopefully, those are useful to the people who read my blog. I don't, however, take the time to promote such a post.

    When I lay down what I consider to be a fundamental concept that has the potential to change how one of my readers approaches their process, that post I consider worth promoting.


  7. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Same here. It takes some time getting it right. I sort of got distracted ranting about unrelated things (gamedesign) and lost track of what I was really on about. I do agree with the basic premise of the post though. Making choices IS a big deal.

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