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Author Topic: OGHM's Whacky Writing Conventions  (Read 797 times)

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Offline OhGodHelpMe

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OGHM's Whacky Writing Conventions
« on: May 25, 2016, 01:26:44 PM »
I write a lot. Like, a lot. And I usually don't plan my stories ahead very far. In fact, a lot of it is more like generative, in the moment writing than anything else. This is no accident, however. It's completely deliberate, albeit a little risky, because I'm always trying to make something creative and unique. Not just the story itself, but the very writing that makes up the story as well.

Someone might be able to take some pointers from this, and I definitely need to have these thoughts written down somewhere. So, let's move on to some writing/story conventions of mine that I've adopted and how I approach generative writing.


Inspirations: First and foremost, one should understand his own influences in order to better appreciate his own writing. In my instance, I actually take influences from films in the conventions I use to write. I was inspired to use intertitles from watching silent movies that couldn't convey dialogue any other way, and I was inspired to use things like 4th wall breaking from watching films from the French New Wave, which ultimately inspired how films are done today.

So, how do I ultimately translate these inspirations into the story? Simple, actually.

Implementation: Intertitles: I literally insert images of intertitles in my work. Various intertitles from various different silent films that serve to convey the feeling of a situation, or something that the character is thinking about. It's usually just something completely unspoken. For instance, female character starts acting like a pervert to male character, and an intertitle is inserted saying something like "There isn't a single decent thought in your dirty mind!" and the MC gently backs away from the situation. I personally find this funny since the intensity of the language in the intertitle is usually higher than the intensity of the character's reaction to any given situation, representing that screaming voice in your head while you try to remain cool and act in a way that isn't uncivilized.

Now, the implementation of images isn't strictly limited to intertitles. Rather, any image that conveys the scene in mind, or the message being conveyed will do. I usually shoot for images that are interesting or eye-grabbing, or perhaps a little disturbing. Despite this, I still try not to rely on images too much, as part of the fun of reading is leaving things up to the reader's imagination. As of now, I think they should solely be used in a symbolic or representational fashion rather than a literal depiction of something.

Using images of words to represent themselves rather than having the characters speak those words is also an idea I've been dying to try out. It's similar to how some movies born out of the French New Wave would have the character's lines appear on screen instead of having them speak out the words. It can certainly make conversations interesting, or it can just be used to put emphasis on a certain word, idea, or concept.

Implementation: French New Wave Conventions: The French New Wave was a very interesting time for French filmmakers. They wanted to break away from the traditions of Hollywood and form something completely unique. Instead of studio remixes of sounds, they captured natural sound and didn't mix it after the fact. Instead of studio shoots and lighting, they shot on location and and used the natural light of the outside. They changed color themes of scenes without warning, used jump cuts to interfere with the continuity of the film, and a bunch of other things that nobody else was really doing.

One of these conventions is 4th wall breaking, a rather dangerous thing to use. Generally, I use it to simply remind the reader that they are reading a story. Take it easy, don't get too deeply wrapped up in everything, you're reading a story after all. Everyone has their own reasons for using this particular metafictional technique, but I do it largely for the comedic aspect.

Don't do this too much, or you may yank your reader right out of the story in a rather uncomfortable way.

Another thing I started doing out of inspiration was the use of lines in asterisks. Kinda like what I did at the beginning of this thread  :unsure: These function in a similar fashion to intertitles, but can be put to a more broad use. They can be used to quickly represent a scene change to a location that's already been explored in the story. Such as:


If the particular bowling alley in question is a place we've already been to several times before and have a good idea of what it looks like, I use the asterisk line to quickly convey a scene change, and there shouldn't be any problems picturing that transition, or the aesthetic of the place in question. I suppose you can think of this as the written version of a jump cut  :hmm:

Other than simply existing within the text, I also usually make these lines interesting to see by themselves and change their color, font, and size. Colored text to contrast with the black text on white background, really. I find this makes reading through a long chapter that much more interesting because the eyes themselves are being guided and attracted by these lines, and by the implemented intertitles and images in the story.

These lines can also be used to express inner thoughts of any given character, or can even be a statement all on their own, free from any entity within the story, as if the story itself is talking to you and conveying something. That much meta is actually making my head hurt  :sure:

Story Conventions: Scene Design: It's not like I have some grand, original approach to detailing scenes, but I have been noticing a repeating trend within my own writing that I've come to accept as a somewhat unique convention. At least one place in the story absolutely has to have some sort of colored windows or stained glass. Truthfully, I know exactly why I started doing this. I have a big fascination with colorful and abstract architecture, and I've always had an obsession with lighting. Conveying how the sun filters through a colorful row of stained glass, or solid, colored windows is always fun. It gives life and beauty to the scene, in my opinion.

I did this with the abandoned church in Anzu, the abandoned bowling alley in Death by Ex-Girlfriends, and the mansion in Death by Ex-Girlfriends: Satori no Akuma. There was a philosophy behind the first two examples.

What I wanted was to give the characters their own place where they alone could go and clear their heads. A sacred place, abandoned, yet beautiful. It serves as a central hub, or as a resting area for more intimate interactions between a tighter ring of characters who all have a connection to this place. Stained glass/colored windows is just what I use to give that place its beauty and sense of sacredness. I think any kind of convention could really do, though. Maybe a specific kind of graphic wall design, or a specific kind of flooring, or perhaps decorations on the ceiling. Either way, this place should stand out in some way or another.

When you've got a good visual idea of a scene, don't be afraid to whip out those flowery descriptive details, as long as it's not too, too long. If you're looking for an interesting way to convey a specific place or interior of a building, go on and go take a look through any collection of modern architecture images. I usually search for something modern, abstract, colorful, and a little "out there". Something that would catch your eye if you were to see it in person. Actually, it doesn't even have to be colorful. You could have a white room, with certain pieces of furniture black. You could have a red room with the beds and fire place white. Color themes are equally as important as color itself. Color guides and draws the eyes, and it can easily be imagined within our minds. Even if you can't see something, it can still be visually appreciated. That's just how colors work in our brains.

Story Convention: Dialogue: Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. I let a piece flow through the extended use of dialog. Sometimes it's trivial and has nothing to do with the overall plot, another convention inspired by the French New Wave. Sometimes it goes on, sometimes it's short. Sometimes it's mundane, sometimes it's dramatic. A lot like real life. The most important thing for me is for the characters to express themselves through any mood of conversation. Maybe this particular chapter is just about a boring rainy day in winter when the characters can't go out. Maybe the next chapter is when the story develops again, and drama is added back into the plot. To me, it's all about priming a development, and then letting the characters naturally react when the development comes to light. But in order to do that, you've got to have some downtime.

Time where the characters aren't on their main adventure and just sit back, somewhat relax, and be themselves. It may sound silly, but not every chapter necessarily has to have something big happen in it. Some chapters I write are entirely carried by the interactions and everyday activities between characters. Though what's happening may not be vital to the plot, it can still be interesting to read about. "A Day in the Life" chapters, chapters where the characters delve into a specific topic, the MC discovering some kind of unholy, unheard of fetish  :unsure: It can all be interesting and it serves to develop the characters even more. The become more tangible, and you can gauge the reactions to a situation better.

Story Convention: Generative Writing: This is really difficult to do. Some people just really need to plan everything out before they do it, otherwise it's like trying to traverse a minefield in the middle of 'Nam. Of course, I plan a little bit. I usually know of a few moments I want to include in the next chapter, or in the next few chapters, but think of those moments as distant hills, and a bridge needs to be built in between those hills. It's the bridges I don't work out ahead of time.

Again, everything in between these moments are all carried by the situation the characters are in, and the interactions/reactions of these characters. If you know your characters well enough, and you know what you want to convey by the end of the chapter, I think improvising the bridges here can be quite the breeze. I guess there isn't much I can say with this since it depends entirely on the writer and their approach to planning. However, I think they key to being able to just generate something cool on the spot is to know your characters, know your end goal, and know the mood of the situation. If you were talking to them or putting them through something directly, how would they react?

Story Convention: Music Ah yes, the music. I'm a huge music-head. Ragtime songs from the 19th century, Delta and Chicago Blues, Jazz, Skiffle, Country, Beat, Rock, Proto-metal, Punk, you name it, I've listened to it. If you think a song can fit in a scene, imagine watching the scene play out through film with that song in the background. If it fits, it belongs there. I usually just go ahead and insert a link to the song for easy listening while reading. It makes reading everything that much more enjoyable, in my opinion.

Usually, I stick with songs that aren't too bombastic. Something that can be enjoyed in the background, like  a steady jazz song, or a beautiful chorale. Mostly instrumental stuff that fits the scene. I've especially been on the search for more chorale types of songs. Songs like Alleluia Behold the Bridegroom, or "Chorale" by the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir for instance. Or songs like Above Your Hand, which creatively mixes gentle acoustics, rock, and the same kind of gorgeous, wordless chanting together. Good lord are they hard to find  :unsure:

Also, if you think it would help you in any way with any aspect of your writing, find an OP and ED for the arc of your story. This did some wonders for me, and hell, it's good to go digging for good songs anyway. Thank god for "Ebihara Shinji" and "World Calling".  :thumbsup:

That's all I've got for now. I'm always trying to find new ways to combine literal visuals with the mental visuals that are concomitant with reading fiction. Finding ways to decorate both the words themselves and the things you see with what the words are trying to convey, how they convey it, and the images we associate with it.

It's all an ongoing experiment that I hope can be enjoyed  :hmm: