Author: Jack Remick

Discover & Rewrite Subplots

© 2009 By Robert J. Ray In The English Patient Geoffrey Clifton is a British spy. That secret is buried in Subplot Two of The English Patient. Katherine Clifton, Geoffrey’s wife, has a lover. That secret is buried in Subplot One. Katherine knows Geoffrey’s secret. Geoffrey discovers Katherine’s secret at the climax of the story when he tries to kill her and her lover. The Secret is one reason to Discover and to Rewrite subplots. The other reason for rewriting your subplots is to discover subtext – the stuff that hovers under the surface of the words on the page. The subtext in The English Patient is animal lust. Katherine wants Almasy, the patient. She tells the story of Gyges the spear carrier and King Candaules, who is married to a beautiful queen named Omphale. The king orders Gyges to view the queen naked. The queen catches Gyges and gives him the old either-or: Either Gyges kills the king or Omphale kills Gyges. This story of a sexual triad in ancient Lydia (Lover-Queen-King) mirrors a similar sexual triad in the North African desert: Lover-Wife-Husband The lover is County Almasy, played by Ralph Fiennes in the film. The wife is Katherine Clifton, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. In this dialogue from early in Act One of the film, you can see Almasy’s plot intertwining with subplot one (Katherine) and subplot...

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Story and Myth

Introduction to Story and Myth—Essays in Story Development © 2010 By Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray. Mythic Dynamo Diagram A good story somehow gets inside your brain. A good story tells you something you already know, but more than telling you what you already know, a good story also makes you feel. If you, the writer, don’t feel the story, your reader won’t feel it. This then is an introduction to working the story from the inside. As we move from consumers (readers, viewers) of stories to producers (writers, dramatists), we need to know how to make the reader feel. To make the reader feel, we have to use the tricks storytellers have known for centuries. One of the tricks storytellers use is the mythic dynamo. The Mythic Dynamo (see figure) The mythic dynamo lets you, the writer, grab onto a myth and pull it into your own time and dress it up in the clothes of your own time, and turn it into something meaningful for your readers in that time. The mythic dynamo lets you develop a metaphoric treatment of a very old tale that lasts and lasts. There are four thousand versions (and counting) of Cinderella. Cinderella is built on an obvious archetypal pattern of Death (she starts most versions in the ashes) and Resurrection (she ends up with the Prince and a fabulous new...

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Archetypes & Archetypal Journey

Exploring Archetype, Ritual, Myth, and Story–A Weekend Novelist Workshop © 2010 by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick A Weekend Workshop Required Viewing for work here: The Natural, the movie based on Malamud’s novel. Study “The Natural” not as a baseball story but as a retelling of the Archetypal Journey. Three things to look for: 1) The Descent into the Underworld; 2) Resurrection Images; 3) Archetypal characters. The center of gravity in a story is linked to Archetypes. Study this passage from Erich Neumann’s Art and the Creative Unconscious. “The archetypes of the collective unconscious are intrinsically formless psychic structures which become visible in art. The archetypes are varied by the media through which they pass – that is, their form changes according to the time, the place, and the psychological constellation of the individual in whom they are manifested. Thus, for example, the mother archetype, as a dynamic entity in the psychic substratum, always retains its identity, but it takes on different styles – different aspects or emotional color – depending on whether it is manifested in Egypt, Mexico, or Spain, or in ancient, medieval, or modern times. The paradoxical multiplicity of its eternal presence, which makes possible an infinite variety of forms of expression, is crystallized in its realization by man in time; its archetypal eternity enters into a unique synthesis with a specific historical situation.” Start...

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A Scene Checklist

©2010 by Jack Remick and Robert J Ray Use the scene checklist to get a handle on the structure and content of your scenes. Work down the list to the Detail questions for scenes, then down to the scene template. Chapters and scenes go together so have a look at Chapter and Scene then come back here. 1. Setting: Is the setting clear? Are there details about the setting? Are there objects on-stage? 2. Character Description: Is one character clearly described with significant detail? 3. Action: What is the action chain in this scene? Does the action connect the beginning to the end? 4. Dialogue: Are the voices distinct? Which character is passive, which character is aggressive? 5. Intruder: Who is the intruder in the scene? What does the intruder want? 6. Complication: How does the secret complicate the scene? What is the complication? Which character is vulnerable? Which character has control? 7. Climax: Is the climax clear? What is the big action at the climax? What object is handled at the climax? 8. Resolution: How does the scene end? 9. Conflict: Is each character’s agenda clear? 10. Plot tracks: How many plot tracks are working in the scene? Is there a plot track on an object? An action? A symbol? 11. Wound: Are the characters talking about their wounds? Is one character trying to discover the wound of...

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Modular Scenes

When Bob and I wrote The Weekend Novelist Writes A Mystery, we discovered that mystery novels are built on a set of Modular Scenes. A modular scene is a self-contained unit. It stands alone. It helps the writer to control the bulk of information — physical detail, clues, facts, place names, character bios — that makes up mystery writing. Building the novel with modular  scenes gives the writer a powerful tool. At first, in homage to C.G. Jung, we called them ‘archetypal’ because these scenes can take hundreds of forms while keeping their basic structure. Later, we added  ‘modular’ to ‘archetypal’ because these scenes kept coming back just like tinker toy parts or leggos.  From Mickey Spillane to Robert Van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries, modular scenes are there. We hit on the idea of plotting an entire novel using modular scenes. We then analyzed a novel by A. Christie and plotted it using the modulars. That work shows up at the end of this section where we lay out Modulars for a Christie novel and show a side by side comparison of modulars from two mysteries. With modulars, the order is immaterial except that, of course, you can’t have a pathology/lab report, suspect interrogation and so forth until you have a body and/or a crime. A second insight that grew out of the modular idea is that a crime...

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Copyright & Excerpts

©2010-2017 Jack Remick, Robert J. Ray. All rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including text and images, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Short excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray and "Bob and Jacks Writing Blog" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.