Hello darlings! Coming to the blog today I have the great pleasure of welcoming up and coming author J.P. Lantern. He’s here today to give all us writers some tips and tricks of the trade. And I don’t know about you, but all my writer peeps out there will agree that writing is a learning process, so get out your notebooks and listen up….
I was tasked for this blog to write out some writing tips.
I’m not sure that what I have to say here will be any different than what probably you have read before. But perhaps this is your first time looking for writing tips. Perhaps you, on your quest to divine truth from a vast collection of lies that you crafted want some help with making it all happen. So here you are, the big tip: Focus on Structure.
I watch a lot of Netflix. I watch Documentaries, I watch TV shows, I watch movies, I watch whatever. My mind takes a lot to occupy itself, so I usually have to have something on the television while I’m working on other projects. What I’ve noticed, ever since doing this, is that I can start to predict plots. I can sense “the turn,” basically. I know when something has to shift, and I can sense very well the building of momentum— in a good movie, or a good documentary, or good tv show, every single scene is doing something. It’s adding the stakes somehow. And just when these stakes seem too much, one of them turns, and it either
lessens or folds into another bit of conflict or escalates to the point that the protagonist has no choice but to take care of it. Every single time. That’s structure. Structure is a great thing to understand. When conflict fails you, when characters fail you, when plot devices fail you—there will be structure to catch your fall. If you do not focus on the structure of
stories, you are basically lost.
Don’t try to invent new structures. I mean, do it if that’s how your mind works, but don’t do it just because you think you’re going to do this brand new thing that no one’s seen before. There are only two possible outcomes to the latter option—you find out someone has
done it before, and much more expertly than you, or you find out the only reason that no one tried it already is because that way stinks.
I was listening to a radio interview not too long ago with Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, two of the actors and creators from the old Comedy Central show Reno 911! They’re also scriptwriters. They said something very astute, which I’m paraphrasing, “Basically, most every movie is Die Hard. You have all these characters, and they’re stuck in a situation. Your job as a writer is to show the audience how they get out of that situation. Once you build up a name for yourself and make some money, you can do some more experimental stuff. Until then, write Die Hard.” They are absolutely correct. For novels, though, I wouldn’t write
Die Hard (though it was a novel first, so who knows). Maybe The Old Man and the Sea
(which, now that I think about it, is a lot like Die Hard).
A lot of people think that unless they write something really scandalous and brand new, no one will take them seriously. What I’ve noticed is that the more serious I take writing and approach it as a business with an audience with a set number of expectations, the less I worry about being taken seriously. When you are making money from writing, people take that very seriously, and write away, in the same way that people take anything seriously that makes money. So you don’t have to worry about breaking the mold. You can use whatever old molds you find. So long as you are writing well, you will notice that people genuinely enjoy reading those same old molds again and again.
Wise advice, indeed. I think I’ll write an erotic version of Die Hard. It’ll be called Die HARDER, FASTER, DEEPER!! Here’s more about J.P. and his incredible new book, In this Red Country.
About the Author
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US with his terrific wife and wonderful dog, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live
metaphorically in Texas. He writes science-fiction, which he has deemed “rugged,” though would also be fine with “roughhewn” because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word. The first novella in his Red Country trilogy, *In This Red Country*, is due out on Amazon on August 23rd, 2013. He is also publishing a collection of five short stories tangential to the novella, *Around The Martian Fringe*, also available at Amazon.
About In This Red Country
In the frontier town of Trunkdown, Clay does his best to maintain the grip on sanity that his mother and father both lost. Clay’s young wife, Maggie, is pregnant, and on the frontier of Mars, that’s a death sentence. Even for a surgeon like Clay, medication for a birth is inaccessible. Without medication, every pregnancy on Mars ends with an abomination ripping out of the mother’s body. Abandoning Clay’s surgeon practice, the two set out to
the nearest city, hoping to find a solution. There are no cars, no planes. They must walk through the land, but the land is littered with danger. Rain storms attack the ground like artillery fire. Mutated beasts populate the nights. Natives—adult versions of the inhumans that burst from unmedicated wombs—attack travelers at will.
The two decide the only way they can make the trip is with a guide named Abram. The bad news is that Maggie and Abram used to be lovers. The worse news is that Abram is a native himself. When each traveler is unable to let the past stay past, old resentments begin to boil among them, irrevocably pushing all three toward a shocking, violent conclusion.