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Do you record reality and in what ways? (1 Viewer)

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
So I am making lists of all of what I know of people. I also made a list of attitudes or pet phrases people have used over the years and that I remember (such as life is hard work). I make a list of facts. This is what the author calls recording reality. If people have problems, record that. A huge amount of what is on the list is never used. The bonus of creating such lists is that you get to know your characters better, you can set up situations and conflicts.

I like the book. It is an underappreciated book. John Vorhaus's (workbook) book is called creativity rules. To make this clear, there are no journaling or diary exercises in the book. So, for example, I wrote a list of attitudes I perceive people have. The lists can be on virtually anything. It can be lists of friends or enemies and so on. You can have lists of problems that individualize a person too, which is a different exercise. To just give an example: people you owe money to, food products, what is inside a woman's closet (boudoir), and so on.

So far I got 600 words or one page full of lists. His book covers the theme of a story very well. He probably explains it better than in all other books I read. It covers different aspects of writing the story. If you want lots of writing exercises, this book has plenty. Even if you don't use everything, you will use something. It's a way of not looking for inspiration and planning, if you will. That is my take on this. I like the book and I have yet to finish all the books I want to read.

For theme he says you must use an imperative sentence to convey the theme and so on. It's something that commands a character because of a belief or attitude.
For a theme this is part of what he says concerning how to use it:

1. Invent a character.
2. Select a theme.
3. Assign the opposite point of view
4.. Identify the pre-existing condition.
5. Describe a transformation in three sentences.
 
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indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I just pay attention to the places I visit, the environments I'm in, and the people I meet. Writing it down seems cumbersome to me - and impossible when I'm riding my bike at 80+ mph through the Mojave Desert, or slipping through the tourist traffic in Bar Harbor Maine.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Well I understand. I haven't really tried to use a notebook. I am using a word processor. If I go to my grandparents house which is twice per month then I might interview them or not and write down what I think may be good material.

I understand that is your approach. Thanks for replying.
 
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Lawless

Senior Member
It has never occurred to me to just write stuff down unless it's giving me an idea for a blog post or something.

Come to think of it, I guess I pay more attention to the moods of things. One of the most delightful activities (or rather a passivity) while traveling is to walk around separately from my buddies occasionally and just watch people on the streets going about their daily activities, look in their eyes and wonder what they may be thinking.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
It has never occurred to me to just write stuff down unless it's giving me an idea for a blog post or something.

Come to think of it, I guess I pay more attention to the moods of things. One of the most delightful activities (or rather a passivity) while traveling is to walk around separately from my buddies occasionally and just watch people on the streets going about their daily activities, look in their eyes and wonder what they may be thinking.
I do the same thing, and recently I began mentally describing the scene. The smell of seafood outside of restaurants in Bar Harbor, the sound of the ocean and the feel of the air and water on the NC Outerbanks - and on the Pacific coast, the vibe of Duval Street in Key West. The difference is that I don't write any of it down, it remains in my head where I can access it easier than a tattered notebook.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
It has never occurred to me to just write stuff down unless it's giving me an idea for a blog post or something.

Come to think of it, I guess I pay more attention to the moods of things. One of the most delightful activities (or rather a passivity) while traveling is to walk around separately from my buddies occasionally and just watch people on the streets going about their daily activities, look in their eyes and wonder what they may be thinking.
This is a productive approach imo and that I can see myself doing. If you can guess what they are thinking you can predict how they could behave in a certain situation ( this can be recorded and the author says desires, emotions, actions, and behaviors can be recorded). By predicting what some people think of themselves we can try to predict their future behaviors. My big brother is generous with his family because he is deeply religious. In church they teach you to give some money to those in dire need and that are sick. Anyways since this is in my opinion of the way he thinks of himself. That is that he is believes in a God. We can try to predict by watching behaviors of what a religious person might do. Maybe he's against some things he believes he is not in favor of doing associated because of having a religion. He is also a brother, very responsible, and a high-achiever. He is more than willing to forgive people. He helps people when in trouble. If I asked myself this question: what would a Catholic do if they wanted to control his brother:
People are basically bad, selfish, untrustworthy and need to be controlled.
That is his belief system ( human concern). What would he do? If he had this nagging doubt?
Or what if he or someone in his family wanted to be friends and join a satanic cult? It could predict his behavior.

For the high achiever behavior? Will he help his brother graduate college when he is an over -achiever?

For a brother. Will he protect his brother from the bully? What if I made him a monk who believes in pacifism and who doesn't kill insects?

A notebook I can agree isn't needed.
 
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NajaNoir

Senior Member
That sounds like a book I might have to read.



I have a Google Doc as well as a notebook that looks like word soup. I don't usually record more than a word from passing moments that I might want to revisit. Each jotted down because they evoke a certain picture, time, place, memory, feeling in me, etc… I open it up and use it as a sort of idea center, a compass that'll point me on my next journey, or help along the way.

Also, I've taken pictures of things, stained glass windows, buildings, statues, graves, flowers, etc... and looked at them later, to use as a foundation for the emotions I want to convey in a story. Some of them, such as the windows, (not exact replicas) find their way into my stories.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Surely desire I never tried to record. But the rest can be recorded as small notes in a word processor or in Google docs. There is just theme left which he discusses in the book which is the second most important idea imo. Maybe making endless lists is senseless so I will record what we discussed in the thread (behavior, emotion, action etc). He left to d some walking to exercise a few moments ago which I am typing here as another example. I do agree talking to people helps.

For a recorded desire that could serve the basis of a story from real life I have an example. For example I do remember my brother expressing the desire to be number in his class or to do very well in other more competitive schools. He got a number 1 position in a smaller school. He has always been a good student. This could be a tug of war sort of concept in terms of conflict. Desire is said to be the engine of the story.

For my little brother. He wanted to be a diplomat so he could travel the world for free. Maybe I could make a plot where they are following him. Anyways I wish I could write but the sun tired me out. I had to go to a shadier spot inside my home.
 
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Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
For theme he says you must use an imperative sentence to convey the theme and so on. It's something that commands a character because of a belief or attitude.
For a theme this is part of what he says concerning how to use it:

1. Invent a character.
2. Select a theme.
3. Assign the opposite point of view
4.. Identify the pre-existing condition.
5. Describe a transformation in three sentences.
To answer your title question, I don't officially record reality by documenting it, but I record it in my mind as if an internal tape recorder. When I write it's like imagining a scene or conversation and then scouring into my internal files for a reference. Everything I write is based on some form of reality.

I love the framework you presented. If I were to answer the criteria for my next novel, it would be something like this:

1. Sofia Schoenberg, hotelier, and real-estate developer.
2. Why do good people, sometimes make bad decisions? What motivates them to act unethically?
3. Under the utilitarian ethical theory, people make decisions based on the greatest good. What decision serves the greatest number of people?
4. Current laws do not factor in the scope of people affected by utilitarian decision-making with respect to banking regulations.
5. There is a worldwide financial crisis. Lawmakers are then forced to recognize an unstable economy due to de-regulation. New Laws are implemented to protect the public interest.

Wow...that really felt good! Thanks, Glass. I encourage others to try it.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Theme is VERY important to me - without it, all we can write are rollicking adventures at best. Substance is crucial - our characters have arc, they start in one state of being and emerge at the end in a different place, but the same can be said for the reader. Novels are a conversation between the writer and the reader about a particular subject. Mind you, I'm not talking about pontificating, it's a discussion not a sermon.

I've listed these things before, but will do it again for the sake of example. The themes behind my books have been:
Dark Side of Joy: children of criminals are punished too - what should be done with the kids?
The Last Dragon: corporations displacing ethnic neighborhoods to build high rise establishments.
Departure: the perils of an autocratic government.
Desperation: the risk of seeking power, and the consequences the populace suffers.
Damnation: religious intolerance.
Deviation: sex discrimination.
Destination: evolutionary spiritualism.
Redemption: can thoroughly bad people become good?
Inception: privacy issues; freedom vs safety.

As a reader, I want a story that engages my mind - that's what a theme provides.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I think I won't obsess about recording reality. Some things I do want to jot down. Thanks Taylor and Indianroads.

1. Invent a character.
2. Select a theme.
3. Assign the opposite point of view
4.. Identify the pre-existing condition.
5. Describe a transformation in three sentences.

Ok. I tried this attempt at making a summary and theme.
1. An artist.
2. To be alone.
3. To amass wealth.
4. A famous artist plays dead to make his works turn him into a billionaire. He extends his life to become immortal. He lives in a cave with all the riches in the world and becomes depressed. He enlists an art collector to privately work as a collector of his works who was his friend until he turned his life attitude changed towards collecting money. He now has become a robot.
5. Faced with the possibility of a society that has the potential to erase his memories. He becomes a wanted man. He wants company. But at the price of not being alone. No one knows what will happen to him. His artistic legacy and life are up in the air.
 
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