Write by example

You want the good news or bad news first?

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Bad News: 

I don’t like parts of this story, particularly…

As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not a man’s brain that was speaking; it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck. (Orwell 56)

This is not the part I don’t like. It’s what follows immediately after this:

“There is a word in Newspeak,” said Syme. “I don’t know whether you know it: duckspeak, to quack like a duck.” (Orwell 56)

I think it’s not the topic of discussion that bothers me so much, it’s the fact it repeats itself. It also hits me as a bit strange for the character to think that, and then the other to voice his exact thoughts – too much of a coincidence or stretch for it to go un-notice.

I don’t think it would’ve taken much to fix this, only a simple call out with the character recognizing that this was a strange coincidence as well – a neat fix-it-all technique for when something out of the ordinary or strange happens in your book.

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Good News: 

Page 52 to 54.

All about Newspeak – the revolutionary language of the totalitarian society in this novel – this part of the characters’ discussion talks about how language is being destroyed and minimized to the bear roots, meaning “every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller” (Orwell 54).

I loved how Orwell didn’t only invent a language, he invented a language with the sole purpose to limit the range of thought, to limit their expression, therefore destroying the people’s creativity and individuality, adding to the novel’s successful portrayal of his totalitarian society.

It just shows the amount of effort and thought he’s put into creating this world, showing he’s not only successful with realistic social behaviors but world building as well.

This book would be a good example of how to build your world: create a routine for your characters, a language, a setting and time period, a history, a future…etc.

Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Centennial ed. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2003. Print.

Coincidence? I think YES

As I mentioned earlier, a good friend of mine wrote Xodus, and I’m really proud of her. Having taken two years to get through writing and edits, I’m impressed with her level of dedication. Of course, since we’re two different people, there’s things we agree/disagree on.

One of the things I’m not a fan of is coincidences:

The two spoke, and the man glanced over his shoulder in my direction. Though wide sunglasses covered the top half of his face, I caught a glimpse of his left cheek. It was marred with a terrifyingly familiar scar. (McPike 42)

When I read this, I was pretty upset. This was awfully a large coincidence, like a slap in a face to be worrying about this man and then to see him in the hallway in the school. I mean, seriously, what is he doing here? He doesn’t seem like a parent. We saw him earlier playing with guns, so what the heck is he doing at school with a child?

This was huge! And although I realize, if it’s probably this BIG of a coincidence, it’s probably on purpose, I’m more worried about how gimmicky it seems. I’m worried about the story, not the character. This feels awfully forced, almost ridiculous to insert him into the school when he doesn’t seem to belong.

But the catch to fix this feeling is what follows:

Questions swirled around me like a cyclone, their force enough to make me sway on my feet. He was following me – that much I knew. But why? Did he know what was happening to me? Did he know I’d seen him attack that woman last night? He must’ve hired Kai to pose as a student and keep tabs on me. Why else would he have glanced back in my direction while they were talking. (43)

For something like this, where the author wanted to equalize Kai with her nightmare, position him in a place of distrust, she had to stage this situation, and although gimmicky, it was corrected by having her character call it out.

And for this situation, it fixed that feeling immediately. Having the character’s notice the craziness of the situation, having Lali explain the wonk-factor for it…it fixed everything. She let the character reflect on the situation, and I definitely think it fixed that off-feeling I felt.

Let this be a lesson: If you have to pull something coincidental or something of similar feeling, have the character call it out. Having them recognize it as a crazy situation fixes most gimmicky feelings the reader may have.

McPike, KJ. Xodus. Seattle, WA: Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, 2015. Print.