Friday, October 7, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Boring

I've been watching The Vampire Diaries. A lot. I think I'm on season 3. Research, I've been calling it. And a lot of that is research into what I don't want to do. That show has some things in common with Twilight that I'd like to avoid. Namely, this whole eternal teenager thing. If you had essentially an eternity to do whatever you wanted, why would you spend it in high school?

Des, my protagonist, helpfully informed me, "I'm not one of those teen romance vampires who spends fifty years in high school. Fact is, I was twenty five when this all went down. Sure, I could pass for eighteen, but why would I want to?" Me personally, if I had to be in school forever, I'd at least be in university, getting my 76 different degrees.

But that brings me to what we're really talking about today: The Magna Carta.

No, not the thing signed by King John in 1215. No, this originates in No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo). The idea is that first you make a list of all the things that you personally think make a good novel. These are the things that you like to read. Then, you make a list of the things that bore and depress you in novels. These are the things you don't like to read. Once you have your lists, you display them prominently in your writing area, and refer to them while crafting your story.

Now, you might wonder why you'd need a list of the things you hate. Wouldn't you know better than to include such things? Maybe, but I'm going to chalk it up to peer pressure. Like, everyone else is doing smutty romance, so you ought to have it too. No, that's dumb. If you don't like it, you don't have to have it.

My Magna Carta is a constant work in progress. Sometimes I'll see something that I either love or hate, and have to add it to the list. I'll share with you what I have so far, and try my best to explain what I mean.

I (Like)
  • Quirky Narration
  • Understated UST (that's Unresolved Sexual Tension) that preferably never gets resolved
    • This is the will-they-won't-they thing, and I like a little tension, but only if they never actually get it on. My last Camp NaNo was made of this.
  • That horror thing where they're like, "But if you're over there, who's making that sound over here?"
  • Secret backstories
  • Butchering common phrases

II (Dislike)
  • Mistaken identity
  • Love Triangles
  • Willful failure to communicate
    • This is like… "I know a critical piece of information, but I'm choosing not to share it for no apparent reason. I thought maybe it wasn't important."
  • Sex scenes

Oddly enough, The Vampire Diaries is pretty much made of list II, but I can't stop watching it. It has enough redeeming qualities, I guess. By which I mean violence and bloodshed. Hmm, maybe I should add that to my list.

The idea behind all of this is that you should write stories that you, yourself, would want to read. And while that seems obvious, you can still fall into the trap of wanting to write something way outside your comfort zone, because that's what other people are reading and writing. But you're going to be stuck with this story until you finish it. And you don't want every day to be a constant struggle. You don't want to dread writing. Because then, what's the point?

Oh, and as for why it's called the Magna Carta, I don't know. That's just what it's called.

I'll see you Tuesday.

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