Tag Archives: Andy Couturier

Three Top Tips to Put New Power in Your Writing


by Lillian Csernica on July 9, 2017

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When we’re in the process of writing, we sometimes reach a point where despite having a complete list of story elements on board, we feel like something is still missing. What we’ve written so far is good, but we want more. More depth. More intensity. More power.

Here are three simple, effective techniques to bring more power to your ideas and the ways you write about them.

 

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CHARACTER ORCHESTRATION

There are two parts to  proper character orchestration.

First, you make the protagonist and antagonist very different from each other. Create strong contrast with opposing traits, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, financial or all of the above!

Author James N. Frey provides an excellent explanation of this technique in How To Write A Damn Good Thriller.

Second, the events of your story leave these two characters tied together in what’s known as the “unity of opposites.” In his blog The Story Element, Paul Nelson explains:

The two opposite characters who are in conflict must be forced together, and neither of them can be allowed to leave the battle. For example, if Gandalf gives up and the ring isn’t destroyed, then Sauron wins and turns Middle Earth into hell. If Sauron gives up and lets the ring be destroyed, then he is also destroyed. Both Gandalf and Sauron are in danger of being destroyed, so they must destroy the other. They cannot both exist at the same time.

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JUXTAPOSITION

From Writing Explained:

What does juxtaposition mean? Juxtaposition is a rhetorical device that places two elements in close relationship for comparative purposes. Juxtaposition is a type of comparison. Typically, the two elements being juxtaposed have differences and the juxtaposition is meant to highlight contrasting effects.

In the long-awaited Wonder Woman movie, the juxtaposition of Diana and Steve Trevor serves to highlight the many layers of meaning in the story. Diana is a strong, independent warrior at a time when Steve Trevor sees a woman as being weak, needing his protection and guidance. Diana sees victims of the war who need help right now, while Steve knows they have to complete the mission to save the greatest number of people. Steve expects Diana to learn how to follow the rules of his world. Diana is committed to her sacred duty and says so in one of the movie’s best lines: “What I do is not up to you.”

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ASYMMETRY

Let’s start with symmetry. From Dictionary.com:

noun, plural symmetries.
1. the correspondence in size, form, and arrangement of parts on opposite sides of a plane, line, or point; regularity of form or arrangement in terms of like, reciprocal, or corresponding parts.
2. the proper or due proportion of the parts of a body or whole to one another with regard to size and form; excellence of proportion.
3. beauty based on or characterized by such excellence of proportion.

Sounds good, right? Symmetry has its value, but in writing a good story, asymmetry can be even more useful. Find out why here:

How to Blow Your Own Mind in Just Five Minutes

These three techniques can help you make the most out of any story idea. Write with power!

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Filed under classics, creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, Horror, Lillian Csernica, publication, research, romance, science fiction, steampunk, sword and sorcery, Writing

J is for Joie de vivre


by Lillian Csernica on April 10, 2013

Yes, that is indeed French for “joy of living.” The English definition of the phrase is most often rendered as hearty or carefree enjoyment of life. Sounds pretty good, right?

To be a writer is to be driven by some inner compulsion to render one’s thoughts and ideas into words. Most of the writers I’ve known well have been what might be termed “broken people.” Many of us write because we’re trying to make something stop hurting. Or perhaps we’re trying to prevent others from suffering the hurts we’ve endured. This is a noble task. Messy, painful, an uphill struggle at times. After all that effort, we might reach only a handful of people with the message we’re driven to send.

You know what many of us need to do? Lighten up.

That sounds frivolous, doesn’t it? Oh no, we tell ourselves, we have serious work to accomplish. Time lost is never regained. Nose to the grindstone! While there’s something to be said for the Puritan Work Ethic, even the Puritans had some fun every once in a while.

I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I am low serotonin. Going back on both sides of my family one can read the patterns of depression and alcoholism and divorce. I have bad days when I can’t write. I have, however, learned how to get past that horrible conviction that I will never write another worthwhile word again. The solution is simple.

Go play with your cat. Go blow bubbles. Go sit in the sunshine. Go look at the stars. Be Here Now. Be fully present, fully mindful, in full possession of whatever inspires in you the joie de vivre waiting within every moment. Better yet, when you have happy moments, WRITE THEM DOWN! Write down what gives you a lift, what drives back the shadows, what floods your weary mind and heart with all the wondrous colors of life.

My writing teacher, Andy Couturier, gave me a brilliant piece of advice. One night after class I was all excited over the progress I was making on my current novel. I was happy, really happy! Andy suggested I write down how I got to that place of happiness. Life is full of ups and downs. Some time another bad day would hit, and I’d need to find the longitude and latitude of happiness once again. A few months later one of my best friends died suddenly. I still miss her every day, but now the grief does not cripple me and stop me from writing.

Joie de vivre. The joy of living. Breathe it in. Let it soak into your every cell. Then return to your writing radiant with the pure energy of being alive.

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