Monday, October 29, 2007

The Caper: An introduction to my examination of caper stories.

As I get closer to writing a novel for Nanowrimo, I’ve decided to take a closer look at capers. Mostly because, at this moment, I’m thinking of traveling down that route myself in November.

I love capers because there’s a friendliness among a group of people that are gathered together to complete a single goal: to commit a perfect crime. The group’s dynamic as they go through the process of planning and committing that crime really show off their different personalities. What separates a caper from other crime stories, for me, seems to be a level of fun. There is rarely a feeling that any characters will truly suffer or die. Harsh reality has very little to do with these stories other then to bring the group together at the beginning.

Over the next few posts, I plan to go into what I think are the important elements in the Caper.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rules from the Scream trilogy

In honor of the season, I've collected the rules from the Scream trilogy. (thanks to wikipedia for the material)

Scream - Rules for surviving a horror movie

- Don't have sex.
- Don't drink or do drugs.
- Never say "I'll be right back."
- Don't ask "Who's there?"
- Never investigate any strange noises

Scream 2 - Rules of the horror sequel

- The body count is always bigger.
- The death scenes are always much more elaborate, with more blood and gore.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances assume the killer is dead.

Scream 3 - Rules for the concluding chapter of a trilogy

-The killer is going to be superhuman. Stabbing won't work. Shooting won't work. In the third one, you have to cryogenically freeze his head, decapitate him, or blow him up.
- Anyone, including the main character, can die.
-The past will come back to bite you in the ass. Any sins committed in the past are about to break out and destroy you.
-Basically..In the third movie, all bets are off.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Robert A. Heinlein's Rules for Writing Success

1) You must write.
2) Finish what you start.
3) You must refrain From rewriting, except to editorial order.
4) You must put your story on the market.
5) You must keep it on the market until it has sold.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Laws of Narrative (V)

V) The Glove Law (AKA. Fletcher’s Law (A))
This law is purely visual, so it is only found in film and television. When all you can see of a mysterious figure is a pair of gloves at the end of long sleeves, the mysterious figure is female.

When a director wants an actor who portrays the villain to do a physical “evil act” on camera, but doesn’t want to give away which character is the villain, they’ll show only the villain’s hands during the “evil act”. When the hands in question are large, manly hands, this isn’t a problem. Audiences are used to seeing male hands doing physical actions, so it doesn’t really register. If those hands are smaller female hands, they stand out and give away too much. Instead, those small hands will be hidden in gloves, usually either black leather or gardening gloves. So, when all you can see of a villain is black leather gloves as they strangle someone or crush a skull or flip off an innocent pedestrian, the culprit is female.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Laws of Narrative

IV) The Law of the Missing Major Character

Any major character from a series that goes missing will be fine. No matter how built up the story will be about them being in danger, don’t worry. As much as the writer may hate the character, publishers and producers know that fans of the series would be pissed if their favorite character just disappears. Pissed off fans don't pay for the next part of the series. So, no matter how dire the disappearance, the character is just waiting for the rest of the main cast to catch up with them. Tuppence may have been kidnapped by villains of the worst sort, but she’ll be fine when Tommy finally realizes that he needs to rescue her. Richard Jury may be bleeding to death on a dock, but he’ll still be alive when Melrose finds him. George Kirrin may have said she’s running away forever, but she’s really just playing with her dog on the island, waiting for the rest of the five to come to Kirrin on holiday.

The Laws of Narrative

The Laws of Narrative
III) The Law of the Missing Minor Character

Any minor character that goes missing is dead. A character that’s “going home to free their country” died before he got to the boat. When you hear “Dad usually calls on his business trips”, dad never even made it down the street. If a guy ever says, “The boss is on a trip and can’t be reached”, that guy probably killed the boss and buried the body in the garage.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Axel Olrik’s Laws of Epic Narrative-

Axel Olrik. "Epische Gesetze der Volksdichtung." Zeitschrift für Deutsches Altertum, Vol, 52 (1909), 1-12.

The Law of Opening and Closing (Folk narrative does not begin with sudden action or end abruptly)

The Law of Repetition (Events are repeated, often 3 times)

The Law of Three (Things come in threes)

The Law of Two to a Scene (Each scene will contain only two speaking characters. Any other characters present will remain mute.)

The Law of Contrast (Folk narrative loves contrasts: weak & strong, poor & rich, man & monster, good & evil)

The Law of Twins (Folk narrative is fond of twins, however, if they play a major role, they will probably be subject to the Law of Contrast [one bright, one gloomy])

The Importance of Final Position (The youngest son will have our sympathy, the last test will be decisive)

The Law of the Single Strand (Folk narrative follows one temporal strand of action. It does not shift scenes to follow parallel actions)

The Law of Patterning (Repeated scenes will be as similar to each other as possible)

The Use of Tableaux Scenes (Certain moments of folk narrative evoke a strong visual image.)
The Logic of the Sage (Folk narratives find their plausibility not in their sense of reality, but in a certain internal narrative logic)

The Unity of Plot

The Concentration on a Leading Character