One more chapter to go...

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dios4vida
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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by dios4vida » July 15th, 2011, 2:43 pm

polymath wrote:A concern I'd have with both dios4vida's and Megs6703 scenarios from what's given is the hero/heroine/protagonist isn't being proactive while unconscious. If being unconscious is of import and proactive then I'd be good with it. If not, I have doubts about it. A protagonist whose lights go out and things happen meanwhile is no longer central to the dramatic action. He, she, or it is removed from the stage or at least no longer under the spotlight. Readers might have difficulty bridging that gap. Being near an ending is even more problematic from potentially seeming like a coincidence. But again, no absolutes.
I agree. What I was trying to convey was a sense of having everything solved when the protaganist goes under. Nothing of import happens while they're unconscious. The unconsciousness itself would be symbolic of the conflict coming to a close - the lights go out on the conflict, so to speak, as do the lights go out in the protaganist. They gave all that they had in the final battle without having to actually die for it.

I understand that everything can be done well with a skilled enough hand in control. But do you think this particular scenario would make a difference, polymath? If the dramatic action has been resolved, does having the protaganist lose consciousness still separate the reader too much?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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polymath
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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by polymath » July 15th, 2011, 3:35 pm

dios4vida wrote:I understand that everything can be done well with a skilled enough hand in control. But do you think this particular scenario would make a difference, polymath? If the dramatic action has been resolved, does having the protaganist lose consciousness still separate the reader too much?
Frankly, I see a loss of consciousness in an ending after the finale of the main dramatic complication as a Dischism, and possibly superfluous when a more artful ending takes advantage of setups and transitions which restore emotional equilibrium. I'm thinking there of the ending celebrations for the heroes in the Star Wars saga, which might be an overused, outworn ending. Algis Budrys, one time coordinating judge of the Writers of the Future contest, notes an ending must recognize and validate an outcome's circumstances in order to satisfy readers with an emotionally complete payoff. I agree. Artfully how though, is another matter.

A Dischism is where a writer's writing setting artlessly makes its way into a narrative. Openings, waking up or regaining consciousness, writing after waking in the morning. Endings, going to sleep or losing consciousness, end of day stuff. Because writers' subconsciousnesses influence writing, and waking and sleeping are daily activities not given much conscious thought, waking and sleeping are pretty common Dischisms and prone to overuse, outworn, and trite. Maybe cliché in the sense that extended metaphors can be outworn and trite, though cliché in a denotative sense applies to short phrases like, All in a day's work.

Anyway, a screening reader who encounters a significant fraction of narratives with waking-up openings and/or losing consciousness endings is more likely to say no thank you. I'm sure they see many that they associate with emotionally flat or lackluster vigor narratives. If there is waking or sleeping openings or endings, though, and artfully handled, there is going to be a struggle in a screening reader's mind to accept or reject the scenario, for many readers too. That can be counted on and potentially taken advantage of by slipping in context that works and allows for prepositioning circumstances for foreshadowing and the like; in other words, subliminally inserting circumstances in readers' minds for later relevance and raising curiosity. On the other hand, one more shortcoming in short order increases the possibility of rejection, like untimely backstory or an unsatisfying ending.

Again, in another alternative, a conventional ending might result in a nobel sacrifice of the hero and consequently death. Some critics consider death endings, the ultimate loss of consciousness, as outworn and trite as well. Another outworn ending they remark upon is a marriage ending. Once upon a time there was a fairy tale and they married and live happily ever after stuff.
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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by dios4vida » July 15th, 2011, 3:58 pm

Thanks, polymath. Very enlightening stuff. I think I'll be chewing on that one for a while.

<senses a shifting paradigm in her writing>
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by polymath » July 15th, 2011, 5:04 pm

Cool, dios4vida, glad to be of service. Tap the polymath while you still can. I got notice of acceptance today for a new job, which will be twenty hours a week on top of my already bread and butter editing livelihood and nine classroom contact hours and forty hours homework and daily living activities and hobbies and ongoing independent writing investigations. No love interests, nor pets, nor plants, nor refrigerator science projects, nor social life to speak of, so it's not as time consuming a schedule as it seems. The job is a writing tutoring and technical support position paying as much per hour as my editing work. Three weeks away and counting down. Tick tock.
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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by trixie » July 22nd, 2011, 1:48 pm

Congrats on the new job, Poly!

I have been lurking in on this discussion because I know I don't know enough to necessarily contribute above what's been said, but also because I know my WIP needs work with my "fade to black" scene.

I have my MC passing out and the bad guy getting away. At the time, that was my way of leaving the chapter on a cliffhanger, enticing the reader to keep reading. At the start of the next chapter, I have a double faux pas. 1) My MC awakes from a dream, and 2) TWO WEEKS have passed since the climactic event! Oy vey!

Thanks for this thread and the discussion. Something nagged at my brain with that transition and now I have a better idea of what it is and how to fix it.

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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by dios4vida » July 22nd, 2011, 1:59 pm

trixie wrote:I have my MC passing out and the bad guy getting away. At the time, that was my way of leaving the chapter on a cliffhanger, enticing the reader to keep reading. At the start of the next chapter, I have a double faux pas. 1) My MC awakes from a dream, and 2) TWO WEEKS have passed since the climactic event! Oy vey!

Thanks for this thread and the discussion. Something nagged at my brain with that transition and now I have a better idea of what it is and how to fix it.
I'm with you, trixie. I've been reading this thread going "ouch, yeah, I do that" and "oh crap, I thought doing that was such a good idea!" and all of that stuff. I discovered that in my current WIP I have not just one, but THREE fade-to-black, MC passes out scenes. I'd entertained thoughts of an epilogue with a wedding scene. And the beginning is a wake-up scene. I didn't think it was but yeah, going back, he's woken up right at the beginning. Oy vey, indeed.

Chalk those up on the "rookie mistakes committed" list, along with the dreaded "mirror" scene and several dream-sequences, fade-to-black unconsciousness times, and a reactive protaganist. Among others. (Thankfully not all in the same WIP.)

Good thing we can always rewrite, right?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by polymath » July 22nd, 2011, 3:57 pm

trixie wrote:Congrats on the new job, Poly!

I have been lurking in on this discussion because I know I don't know enough to necessarily contribute above what's been said, but also because I know my WIP needs work with my "fade to black" scene.

I have my MC passing out and the bad guy getting away. At the time, that was my way of leaving the chapter on a cliffhanger, enticing the reader to keep reading. At the start of the next chapter, I have a double faux pas. 1) My MC awakes from a dream, and 2) TWO WEEKS have passed since the climactic event! Oy vey!

Thanks for this thread and the discussion. Something nagged at my brain with that transition and now I have a better idea of what it is and how to fix it.
Thanks, trixie. It promises to be a challenging and rewarding experience. Today, I got pressed for taking another position, intern for a prestigious literary journal, same pay, same hours, better curriculum vitae credits. I'll probably go for it if they'll have me, and drop the tech support job. I'm facing the realization I'd cop out by staying with that comparatively easy job and missing the opportunity to sink my teeth into a career building job. That would fulfill my mutual vocational goals, teaching, editing, publishing, and writing. I'm not quiting my day job slogs until I'm sure my writing will fulfill my needs and wants.

Cliffhangers are dicey propositions. They've been done to death, done artlessly with junk fiction, still being done on trash reality TV shows, game shows, talent shows, yada, yada. Studying on how J.K. Rowling persistently left open cliffhanger endings with the Potter saga gave me valuable insight into installment franchises. Potter resolves each installment's main dramatic complication in the final outcome of each installment; meanwhile, building on and leaving open the larger overarcing dramatic complication that carries the entire saga, that of Voldemort's nemesis, which, in turn, is finalized in the final installment.

Another way I looked at artful cliffhangers is stand alone thriller novels reporting on Cold War spying, The larger complication of Cold War politics wasn't finalized until the Iron Curtain came down in the late '80s. Each novel, though, deals with a narrower dramatic complication. Endings with finalized dramatic complications, but with overarcing open ends unfinalized.
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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by dios4vida » July 22nd, 2011, 8:48 pm

Oops! I totally meant to congratulate you, polymath, but it somehow spaced my mind. So, congrats!! :)
Brenda :)

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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by GKJeyasingham » July 22nd, 2011, 9:24 pm

polymath wrote:Cliffhangers are dicey propositions. They've been done to death, done artlessly with junk fiction, still being done on trash reality TV shows, game shows, talent shows, yada, yada. Studying on how J.K. Rowling persistently left open cliffhanger endings with the Potter saga gave me valuable insight into installment franchises. Potter resolves each installment's main dramatic complication in the final outcome of each installment; meanwhile, building on and leaving open the larger overarcing dramatic complication that carries the entire saga, that of Voldemort's nemesis, which, in turn, is finalized in the final installment.
Sorry if this seems like I'm swerving the direction of your comment, but anyway:

Funny you should mention Harry Potter - interestingly enough, the first instalment has Harry fainting at the end of the climax. Most of the resolution happens afterwards when Harry becomes conscious again and Dumbledore explains everything that happened (which is kind of the idea Megs6703 was thinking of doing).

Would this be considered a cop-out resolution? Not sure. Make sure it works for the story is all I can say.

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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by polymath » July 22nd, 2011, 10:41 pm

GKJeyasingham wrote:Sorry if this seems like I'm swerving the direction of your comment, but anyway:

Funny you should mention Harry Potter - interestingly enough, the first instalment has Harry fainting at the end of the climax. Most of the resolution happens afterwards when Harry becomes conscious again and Dumbledore explains everything that happened (which is kind of the idea Megs6703 was thinking of doing).

Would this be considered a cop-out resolution? Not sure. Make sure it works for the story is all I can say.
The Potter saga contravenes one or two or dozens of the so-called rules about Things That must Not Be Done. Rowling does them sufficiently artfully they don't call undue attention to them, is my opinion. How many times does Potter look at himself in a mirror? Not to put too fine a point on it either, the target audience niche probably hasn't seen them artlessly done as much as wider-read readers. The main things in my opinion Rowling does artfully, she closes narrative distance and stays in as close as circumstances allow throughout the saga, and makes smooth, judicious, and timely transitions when narrative distance needs to open a wee bit.

Thanks, dios4vida. These jobs will probably amount to the most pay per word directly resulting from a manuscript submission I'll ever earn. About $3.20 per, a far cry from the $0.06 or so average for digest publication. Although it's still salary work to do after submission and program acceptance based on the manuscript, it wouldn't have come to pass without the manuscript submission in the first place.
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Re: One more chapter to go...

Post by sheribomb » July 23rd, 2011, 1:48 pm

I just read through this thread and have found it immensely helpful. I'm working on the closing scenes of an urban fantasy right now and this has definitely given me a lot to think about.

Since I had the book handy, I just re-read the final scenes in the first Harry Potter book to consider how the end plays out. Harry definitely does wake up and the outcomes of the characters are mostly related to him, but I think it works because Rowling includes a good amount of action. A bunch of characters show up at his bedside (Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid) and each tell a part of the story. Then, there are some final scenes at Hogwarts and the train station where some (albeit cheesy) happy times contribute to the denouement. One trick that I think helps is to have some small subplot(s) become resolved in the closing scenes, so they're not all just related to the main character through dialogue. In HP1, we get to see some minor plot elements resolved, e.g., Gryffindor winning the house cup after all and Harry encountering the Dudleys without being so afraid of them. I think all that makes the reader forget that the outcomes aren't relayed through direct action.

So, basically, what polymath said. :) And congrats on the job prospects, polymath! Both sound excellent. Happy writing, Megs -- I'm off to play around with the end of my book. :D

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