Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Term Papers Can Teach us about Novelling--pt. 1

It's almost Thanksgiving!  (In America.  I don't know what the rest of the world looks forward to on November 19th...) 

Which means that Tyler-Rose and I are doing almost nothing but writing term papers and reading things-that-are-not-fun-novels like maniacs.  (Well, Wuthering Heights is a fun novel, in its way.) 

I also made brownies last night.  But that was all a part of revising a paper I'm writing. 

You thought your word processor worked best when you plugged your laptop into the wall.  This is untrue; all versions of Microsoft Word function with 120% more efficiency when the laptop is plugged into a batch of warm brownies. 

Anyway--since what I really care about is writing novels, not academic papers, I tend to notice ways in which writing papers can help me write novels.  Here is one: 

Imagine the counter-argument. 

In order to write a really strong paper, you need to imagine what someone would point out if they were trying to tear your argument apart.  This allows you to pre-emptively answer such questions and find holes in your logic. 

How does this apply to novels?  There are two ways I can think of...

1.  Your theme is an argument.  Hence it will be stronger if you think about the counter-arguments and answer them.  This could also allow you to build thematic dissonance into your novel, which is something Donald Maass talks about in one of his awesome writing books but I can't figure out exactly where it is right now and aaagghhh...I'll come change this when I figure out where he says it. 

2.  Imagine the reviewers.  You don't even have to get all complex with your theme for this to apply.  Just as someone writing an academic paper has to imagine counter-arguments in order to make the strongest argument they can, if you give your story an honest look and say, "What would someone be likely to critique about this?" that's going to strengthen you.  You'll never find a plot hole if you can't put on the persona of someone who is looking for them. 


Well, that's all for now!  I'm going to go work on my papers...and maybe eat some brownies...and...maybe sneak a peek at my WiP so I don't go insane... 

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