Tag Archives: writing

Are You Suffering from Scripto Ex Machina?

ImageBeware!

Does your character move from one event to the next, handling each conflict with aplomb and proper heroism?

If so, you may be rescuing your character.

Regardless of the characters we design for our stories, they are always subject to our personal beliefs and thoughts. They are ultimately extensions of the author.

Because of that, they can also assume some unfortunate blind sides. If you are like most writers, your characters are very near like children, or companions, or friends. They are important on private levels. That is why writing is a deeply personal and subjective journey.

As most know, deus ex machina, is a plot device that is used to keep a character from suffering the consequences of the plot. The most obvious use of this technique is when another character that has more power, intelligence, experience, etc., steps into the fray just before it is allowed to play out and gets the main character out of trouble. This is generally an external event that quickly resolves the plot issue.

As a rule, using it in a story is a bad idea.

However, it still seems to find its way into some stories in a more subtle form. This can occur when the author writes a character that overcomes all obstacles with little consequence. He or she is attacked by bandits in the woods and walks away without a scratch, taking care of them quickly with his or her powers, then back home in time for tea.

It is a natural occurrence for us as humans to avoid painful penalties and this can be injected into a story when the author wants the character to handle some event differently, or even better, than we can or have. This could indicate an unconscious need to ‘rescue’ the character (our-self) from the pain of that event, possibly due to unresolved feelings regarding it. Call it scriptor ex machina.

Ultimately, this can hurt the story unless there is a specific reason for it.

Don’t be afraid to cause suffering to your characters. Let them face the full consequences of their actions. If they do something that should end in pain or loss, you are doing an injustice to the story by rescuing him or her from it, unconsciously or not.

Be brave, be courageous.

Because if you are writing from personal experience (which you should be) you will have to relive that pain that you are writing about. Let your characters learn from it.

Like you did. Or could.

The Writer’s Confidence

Confidence . . . it is the burgeoning writer’s worst nightmare. Is my writing good enough? Or worse: Will others like it? Love it?

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Let me give you the answer.

No!

Wait. What?

I know, I know. You were waiting for some placating, maybe even some validation as a writer. But let me explain what I mean before you hit that ‘Back’ button.

Your writing will never be good enough. If you are serious about writing, then I can make an assumption that I am sure is true for most writers. You are your worst critic. I know this because I am my worst critic, and it constantly drives me to work on my writing. Polishing it and looking for better, different ways to describe something as simple as taking a sip of coffee.

Will others like it, or love it? No. No matter what you write or how you write it, people will not like it. I speak to a lot of folks, writers included, that have this idea that they can somehow please everyone and they will go to great lengths to do so.

You can’t. It isn’t possible. And this is one of those times not to engage in the dippy over clichéd mantras like: “Can’t is a four letter word!” or “Nothing is impossible, unless you believe it is.” When taking others into consideration, do not try to use these witty idioms to keep you thinking that.

But what if they (readers, publishers, agents, etc) don’t like it?

I have one thing to say. Who gives a fuck!

Now, that may seem harsh, but I struggled with this concept for years. I was brought up to think that writing was and should always be a hobby. That it was not something that I could make into a career. A ‘career’ required two, and only two things: a good education, and a good job. In order to get a ‘good job’, the ‘good education’ was a pre-requisite. Well, I have a ‘good education’ and I’ve had jobs that were ‘good’, but never ‘good enough’. The funny thing is, in every job, I’ve had to use writing skills in some shape or form. When getting my ‘good education’, I had to use my writing skills more than some ‘writers’. In fact, many times, I wrote stories to get my points across when major papers or tests came up. A venue that proved very successful, I might add. (I did graduate cum laude from my Master’s program.) I’m not interested in impressing you, but impressing upon you that for much of my life, I have received praise for writing stories.

On the other hand, I have been rejected on numerous occasions when trying to get my stories published, including a nice little one from Lucas Licensing that said they would not read, much less consider, anyone who didn’t have a Nebula or Hugo award for the first novel I wrote. Man, what a confidence builder that was, working that hard on something only to have it rejected on the basis of not having an oft coveted award. I probably should have quit.

At any rate, my point is this. It took a long time, but somewhere along the road I naturally came to the statement I made earlier.

I don’t give a fuck!

Some people are going to like, even love, what I write, and some people are not. Period. And I am not interested in changing my writing style to get them to. Does that mean I am a great writer? Not necessarily, because, like I said earlier, I am my biggest critic, and I work at making it better every time I put words to ‘paper’. But I do know that I’m a good writer.

And if you are a writer, you should know that, too. And realize this. You can always be better. Will you be a best seller? I don’t know. Will you have a successful writing career? I don’t know.

You see, to me, writing is something that I have done regardless of confidence. By continually writing, and improving my writing, confidence became a byproduct backed by choice.

So, if you don’t have confidence in your writing. Welcome to the club. Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep writing.

And never place your confidence in the hands of others!