Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Magna Carta -- Eve

As I’m furiously completing this draft of my YA masterpiece, I’m constantly checking in with my novel and screenwriting reference books to make sure that I’m staying on track, avoiding common amateur mistakes, and following three-act structure, plot, and character rules.

One of these “how to write” books had a great exercise for keeping an author focused on his/her overall goals for the novel. I cannot remember which book suggested this piece of advice, but it is brilliant.

Create your own Magna Carta.

Your own personal Magna Carta is simply an honest list of things you like and dislike when reading stories. That’s it!

My Magna Carta:

First-person point of view
Simple writing
Intense love stories
Humor (even intense dramas must have some)
Realistic characters, plot, setting, dialogue
Likeable characters
Makes me laugh and/or cry
Surprise or twist endings
Multicultural (to me this means using characters from a variety of backgrounds; rich, poor, different customs, be liefs, religions, philosophies)

Third-person POV
Pretentious writing or characters
Verbose writing or overuse of fancy words
Overly quirky characters
Unrealistic characters
Characters who speak too young/old for their ages
Mean-spirited or selfish protagonists
Overly depressing, disturbing, no comic relief, no hope (see: House of Sand and Fog, The Road)
Fancy, rich-people settings
Lame endings (out of the blue or abrupt)
Contrived Multicultural (Specifically, the use of token characters with pigment, trying to pass as “multicultural” writing. Drives me crazy! “Culture” implies a way of life, NOT a shade of pigment. Stepping down off soapbox now…)

For me the exercise is so simple, yet so useful. It’s a constant reminder of what I want (and do not want) to accomplish in telling a story. If I can just stick all the things I love to see in novels into my own novel, then I’ll be satisfied as an artist. Easier said than done, of course!

8 days to go until I hit my deadline. I just hope I’m doing my Magna Carta proud!

- Eve


SilberBook-Blog said...

8 days to go! You're running a marathon - keep hydrated - keep breathing - and stay on course! Go Eve, Go!


Katie said...

Hey Eve - which screenplay books are your faves? (besides the Syd Field one) Since I use that one all the time.

one week!

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks, guys!

Katie, Jay gave me a great Richard Walter book on screenwriting. Can't remember which DM has it now. It is so clear and concise and enlightening (to me). And it uses examples from "classic" movies I grew up with like Star Wars and Kramer Vs. Kramer.

I also have "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass, that is very helpful.

Looking forward to meeting you next week!

Silberbook- are you coming to the conference?


Christy Raedeke said...

I love this Magna Carta idea! I'm going to give it a whirl.

Best of luck in the next 8 days - can't wait for SCBWI!

Anonymous said...

Go, Evie, go. You can do it (imagine Rob Schnieder saying it in that weird SNL voice he used to do)! Lamy

Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks guys. This draft is going to be the largest piece of crap writing...not to mention, full of typos and spaces and a lot of the word "very" repeated over and over!

But it WILL be a completed "working" draft.

Si Se Puede!

Thanks for the support...