Category: Ritual

Subtext and the Biological Code

Subtext in a Scene—Biology and the Three Goods  ©2013 by Robert J Ray             Subtext is one key to a good story. Subtext is that unseen turmoil boiling under the surface of your tale. To create subtext, you can use the ritual of sexual selection, your character’s choice of a date or a mate. To create drama in the selection ritual, we focus on two characters, one female and one male. To get drama, we deploy the three goods: good genes, good resources, and good behavior. Three Examples of the Three Goods             The guests are 30-something, educated, attractive, a mixture of singles, marrieds, and divorced persons. The male is Claude, the female is named Eileen. Claude is handsome. He’s sporting a Rolex and driving a Mercedes. Eileen is attractive. She has no car; she came to the party with a friend. Claude is witty. He tells a good story. Eileen is reserved, formal. She’s attracted to Claude. Her secret in this scene is her borrowed wardrobe. She loves good clothes. Two days before the party, Eileen was laid off. One week before the party, she broke off a relationship. She is polite, well-mannered, a lady. What’s going on in the subtext? To find out, we decode the details. Handsome is code for good genes. Mercedes and Rolex code for good resources. Claude has two goods out of a...

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Flashbacks and Point of View

Flashbacks and Point of View ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Flashbacks  and POV in The English Patient The English Patient has a zigzag structure that slides between past and present, between desert and Villa, between the Thirties in Africa and 1944 in Italy. Unlike All the King’s Men, which is told by a single narrator, The English Patient has four points of view, one for each of Ondaatje’s four protagonists: Nurse, Patient, Thief, and Sapper. The book  opens in the Nurse’s point of view. The year is 1944. The place is Italy. As the Nurse climbs steep steps to tend the Patient, the writer uses the image of a bird drifting down to set up his flashback structure: “There are stories the man recites quietly into the room which slip from level to level like a hawk.” The image of the hawk informs the reader about the zigzag structure of time-slippage that defines this book. On the third page of the novel, the point of view shifts to the Patient – “I fell burning into the desert.” – and the trap door opens, dropping us into the African desert in wartime, when the Allies fought the Axis over oil. This time-dance between past and present, between Patient and Nurse, continues throughout Chapter One. In Chapter Two, the Thief takes over the point-of-view, then alternates with the Nurse and the...

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Who Do You Listen To?

Who Do You Listen To? After I came across a very brave and unique novel titled: Taliban Escape by Aabra  which was reviewed in The Dark Phantom Review, I remembered an exchange I had with a fellow writer and former student. I want to post it here for anyone visiting this blog as a reminder of why we write: Writer: I’m trying hard to maintain the last bit of writing advice you provided, “write what you want, the way you want.” That’s hard, especially with two friends criticizing it. Right now, if I take them seriously, I need to go back and almost start over with my work-in-progress.” JR: Yes, that’s a tough one. One short answer is to listen but choose what to change if anything. The way I see it, we have this ideal story in our heads. It’s endless, but when you write, the readers plug in what you write and if it doesn’t connect somewhere to the universal story, they get this disjunction and their pencils move. What that gives us then is the issue of who’s doing the writing. But even deeper is the question of vision–-readers want you to tell them the story they want to hear. It’s your job to tell them a story they’ve never heard. If you can’t get past the universal, then you add nothing to the inventory of...

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Why Writing Practice Works So Well For Me

August 2, 2012 Roxana Arama wrote this essay after an intense discussion about Timed Writing or Writing Practice grew up on our Louisa’s Writers Facebook page. Check out Roxana’s Guest Writer posts. (Roxana Arama, Guest Writer ) She is working on a complex and ambitious fusion novel built on history and fantasy. Why writing practice works so well for me ©2012 by Roxana Arama As promised, I typed up the reasons why writing practice works so well for me. 1. Writing with other people produces insights At Louisa’s, we read what we write, and that makes a big difference in the way I write. The people I write with are my friends, and I’ve grown to like and respect them over the years. No one writing session will change people’s mind about my craft, so I’m not trying to impress anybody. But I’m trying to make the five minutes that the other people sit around the table and listen to me interesting for them. Whatever they’re listening to is a sliver of my work, a scene out of context, a piece of meta-writing. So I’m trying to make myself as clear as I can. Which means that, as I write, I keep an eye on my subplots, backstories, character motivations – any detail that I can add to make listening out of context easier. As I straddle all these...

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Screenwriting techniques and the Novel–Roxana Arama

(To answer the question: “why are there two postings of the same Guest Writer work?” Answer: we post each Guest Writer’s work in two categories–Posts and Guest Writers.  Posts get archived and disappear. Guest Writer material is permanent. Thanks.) What do software code writers and novelists have in common? In this, Roxana’s second guest blog, she makes that connection. The Wedding Bell © 2012 Roxana Arama January 26, 2012 In my previous post on Bob and Jack’s blog (see Guest Writers), I wrote about the early stages of my novel The Wedding Bell. This post is about my journey as an apprentice toward the later stages of writing a novel. Before turning to fiction writing, I was a full-time software developer with a bachelor of science in computers. Once I began writing, I renounced all my project-development training in order to be a real writer, one that lets the book reveal itself to her as she listens to those voices in her head. I knew what I wanted that book to be about, I had a laptop, so I began writing. I goaded every character and prop in my story to do the work I wanted it to do. I thought that I was letting the creative part of me blossom, when, in fact, I was writing myself into every scene, and plastering myself over every prop. I was...

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©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.