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The Returned



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PostSubject: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:25 pm

Leon had asked me to do this awhile ago and I guess I’m a little slower than I used to be in my old age. Things have been very busy with me lately and while I had intended to get this up sooner it’s a good thing I didn’t. With a new page I figure why not take the time to do it now. Sorry this is so scattered, I’m on lunch at work.

Hannibal had done something similar to this awhile ago by presenting an approach to writing hard hitting dialogue and I just wanted to take the time to create something to help others with some character areas.

1) There isn’t a bad idea, just an idea that needs tweaking. – Any idea can be worked into something strong and something you can run with, but you have to be willing to go for it. You will make mistakes along the way, but just pick yourself up, dust yourself on and keep brainstorming.
2) Ask others. – You may want to surprise people or feel you don’t need their help, but trust me…you do. This is a community, take advantage of it. Ask for help, seek advice, there are people out there willing to listen and help. People love giving advice, it’s in our nature to want to be sought out, so seek people out and ask. Though it’s up to you whether you take their advice or not. Don’t bother looking if you are going to be stubborn.
3) Be unique. – It’s a lot harder than it seems but just because someone has done something like it, doesn’t mean they have done it. Put your own personal twists on ideas and stories.
4) Develop your character. – No one wants to read anything about a one dimensional person who wins all the time. You have to face adversity, overcome obstacles and hurdles. A cut and dry life is boring. Every time you write a promo you should ask yourself “What aspect of ___ is different?” Character development is reliant on the writer being able to see how they want their character to grow and placing obstacles in their path to overcome them.
5) Run with a story. – People want to be noticed, just as much as they want to be sought after, the two are pretty similar. So we all want the HW’s to give us a story arc so we can wow the crowd. But first they need to see you can carry a story. So create your own. Create an over arcing story for your character to be consumed in outside of the ring (See RCA/Smitten/Scorpio/Michaels/Many of the big stars)

Those are just a few of my ramblings on how to really improve your writing or your character, they aren’t complete and they aren’t static, but there is a few.

What I really wanted to touch on was some engaging features.

First: Setting


So you’ve crafted this marvelous scene, beautiful flowing dialogue that rushes headlong into a masterful action scene. Brilliant, kudos, congratulations. You know what people think when they read this scene? “Why is this happening in a blank white room?”

Your description of the setting can be simple or complex that is up to you, but it needs something or else it takes the reader out of the entire scene:

Example:

The heavy oaken door cracked free from its hinges sending the stained splinters spraying into the air. The door itself crashed down across the vibrant greens and reds of the rug below before being met with the force of the collapsing body. The deep red of the blood trickling from his lips dripped down onto the wooden door below.

“Funny, I remember telling you this is exactly how would happen but you didn’t listen did yah? I told you I’d take your life into my palms and crush it, but you just had to try and fight back didn’t yah?”

Sounds a lot better than.
He hit the door breaking it as they both fell to the floor.

“Funny, I remember telling you this is exactly how would happen but you did not listen did you? I told you I would take your life into my palms and crush it, but you just had to try and fight back did you not?

Some of you may think it gets too wordy and too flowery and it does it you just ramble on and on with your descriptors. All it takes is a few more words here or there, or an added sentence to really bring the story to life. The human brain is an amazing thing, if you can engage it and start its engines the imagination will kick in and take over. If not if just chugs along like an old car on a cold day, getting by, but just barely.

Second: Action


Creating flow is so important in anything written so you need to keep your readers engaged. You need to bring them into a world they can envision, give them dialogue that keeps them moving and give them action that are real.


I’ll do a fight scene, because well Harley does them a lot. The key is to focus on things you know and how things react. So you aren’t going to have your character jump and perform 8 somersaults before kicking someone Lui Kang style.

Btw, something a lot of people overlook…hitting people hurts. Your hands and your feet hurt when they connect with someone’s face. You aren’t a superhero, let people know they get hurt.

Example:

He could feel his muscles tense before throwing his arm forward. The releasing fist felt like a hot knife through butter as it carved the air. The knuckles of his index and middle finger connected first just below the cheekbone before pulling across the skin. He could feel the burn across his own knuckles as he grazed the skin of the man in front of him. Pulling the fist back into a defensive position he winced before shooting his left fist forward connecting it with the sharp point of the man’s sternum.

Your actions scene's don't have to be crazy they can be as simple as:

He watched listlessly from the stoop his eyes following the eradic pattern of the floating leaves.

Third: Dialogue


One of the tricks I like to employ is the old “Make people think you’re crazy” tactic. By this I mean read what you’ve written out loud. Chances are if it doesn’t sound right when you hear it, it doesn’t when others read it. This is the case with a lot of dialogue. People write their characters as if they speak perfect English or use perfect grammar and that is not the case…at all.

Of course this is largely relevant to the mood of the dialogue, but learn to love the contraction.

“I won’t.”

Sounds a lot better than:

“I will not.”

All of us inside our heads whether we admit to it or not have created a voice for our character. Use this voice when you read your promo, if it doesn’t sound right for your character, it isn’t. Nothing kills the flow of a promo faster than cold emotionless words. Write as you would speak, this isn’t Grade 11 English, you aren’t required to write perfect English to get an A.

However do pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Just because it doesn’t need to be perfect in structure doesn’t mean you can go around with spelling mistakes, no capitals, commas or periods. Take your time and edit carefully. Don’t just finish typing and post, you’re only harming yourself.

These three items, Setting, Dialogue, Action come together to what one of my university professors called: SAD. It's an elusive trifecta that people rarely hit, yet should strive for. Every scene change, every new bit of dialogue or what have you should be supported by the other aspects.

Are you creating a beautiful setting? Take some time and really think about it, adding in a line of dialogue to compliment the scenery, and how the wind is gusting or the birds are singing brings the scene together and can really engage ones imagination. Which is what we want.

However!

There is too much of a good thing. You can drone on too much about a setting, or have too much convuluted dialogue, or spend too long describing a two second tussle. This is when your words bite you in the ass. This is also where reading it out loud comes in handy. You may seem crazy but you are also checking for flow. If it doesn't sound right to you, it won't to others I gaurantee.

Branching away from the S.A.D. areas of writing and focusing more on their usage, I'll address my view of match relevance.

Match Relevance


Now everyone has their own unique approach to how they incorporate their opponents into the promos. For me this has always been done in a symbolic manner. I myself do not watch wrestling and you will notice there is very little if any mention of it in my promos.

While from time to time I do directly mention an opponents, I strive for the most part to find aspects of the opponent that are recognizable I can use.

For example in the ending of "The Foundry" storyline for Harley which ended at Ultimatum II, Mr. Sunday was the representation of Jaro. While the father of Dr. Quint was the representation of Drew Michaels. Or in my latest promo "The Death and Return of..." Harley has found residence in a church. Which for him symbolises one more stand against Drew Michaels. It represents that no matter how one might struggle, madness...chaos...havoc always finds it way to seep in through the doors.

Sometimes my symbolism is hit and miss and people say "It was great but there was no match relevance." To which I respond, yes there was, I just didn't do a good enough expressing it.

For Newer people this type of opponent expression becomes easier as you become more familiar with your opponents. You can begin to work in characters in the story you are telling that reflect personality traits of an opponents.

I personally prefer this method as I feel it is better to evoke though than be spoonfed the message, but it is really an individual choice for the writer.

So say you have a match against a tag team of the Broken Saints, I would write something like:

Harlequin cautiously stepped the open doorframe. Every fibre of his being signalled that this was a trap, that something was a miss, but forward his legs carried him. The neurons were firing, but the receptors were off staring into space. Light shone into the chapel, creating a cast of shadows along the back wall of the sanctuary. Continuosly forward Harlequin moved cracking a piece of glass underneath his foot which quickly rose his eyes skyward. All around the walls of his beautiful home was broken glass. His eyes scanned left to right as the tops of all of the stained glass pictures lay shattered across the pews. Harlequin glanced down at the beheaded John The Baptist staring up at him from the floor, a malicious smile crawling across his lips.


It's not overt, but it's there. The stained glass painting in a church are usually always Saints. And they were Broken. Like I said, every one has their own approach.


The Wording


Now I really only have experience writing a heel so I will really only focus on that. But your word choice and usage is critical to not only character development but the very tone of the story itself.

You'll notice in the description for the Broken Saint thing above the smile is "Slight" and "Crawling". It's a hell of a lot creepier to imagine a madman staring at broken glass, his eyes gleaming with hatred and this smile starting to grow and spreading across his face. Far better than just him breaking into a huge grin.

What I am trying to say is that depending on your type of character, Heel/Face and the gimmick, try to use words that fit the personality. If you are a badass law bringer like Celt. You aren't going to have him walking down the street "with a skip of joy and swagger of merriment in his step." Hells no, you're going to have The Celt "saunter slowly down the street. The thoughts weighed heavy on his mind, had he gone too far? Had it all been too much. His toes connected with a rock sending it tumbling further down the street."

The words you use do a whole lot more (I feel) in portraying your character than actions ever will.

Again if anyone has thoughts or things they would like to add or for me to touch on please let me know and I will try to address them.


Answer to Saggi: I myself prefer a mixture of the two, with a slight lean towards more seriousness. I like painting a really dark picture and then adding in bits of that same type of humour.

For example: I try to give Harlequin a few bits of comic relief in ever promo. In my goodbye promo as kind of a last ditch effort he shoot Lucifer in the throat, clearly to no avail.

During "The Foundry" storyline I was writing at one point Harlequin shoot someone in the chest and is baffled at why there is no blood. He then gets hit, to which Harley replies "Who let you out of the matrix?"

So every once and awhile I like to throw in some one liners and see if peope enjoy them or not.

Answer to Austin: It is a word. Brevity is something where you are generally going to have to pick your battles. Somethings require the details to really engage the reader. Like the mad rush to the hospital scene in your latest promo. That would have fallen flat without Austin panicing in his mind at the same time.

For myself, I appreciate brevity between dialogue. If character A says something which affects character B, I want to read about it. But just a little bit.

A: I hate you.

The anger welled up inside of B. He could feel his heart begin to pick up pace, beating harder and faster against his ripcage. Heat flushed across his face, his knuckles clenched as a deep breath was sucked in deep down into his lung. He turned to face A with the rage of a thousand hellfires burning deep in his eyes.

B: I hate you too.

If every reaction a character had was laid out like that would you want to read it? No, you'd skip over it after you got the gist of it. B is angry, we get it.

A: I hate you

The anger welled up inside of B. He turned towards A, his eyes alight with anger.

B: I hate you too.

It's simpler, crisper and quicker to read. It's not going to drag on, and it's not bringing down the story. Descriptions are great, but if you are going to put in every single character reaction you're going to kill your story.


The noise pierced through our ears, stopping us dead in our tracks. We watched as the noise began in its belly rippling through its chest before escaping its mouth. Spit flew into the air launched by the flapping jowels of the beast at their feet.

OR:

The dog barked.


Like I said with brevity I like to pick and choose my battles. I love descriptions as much as if not more than the next guy, but there are times (for me, between dialogue) when simplicity reigns king.


Last edited by Clarke on Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:14 am

Fantastic read man, loved it and especially seeing how keen the examples were, heck I'll use this just to fix my descriptions.

Could you mention your thoughts on Match Relevance? Both physical and symbolic.

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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:51 am

Great read, man. I'm always looking to sharpen my craft. I was wondering what are your thoughts about comical promos veres serious or if you favor a mixture of the two? Also is there such a thing as too dark?
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Dec 11, 2009 2:00 am

I'll touch more on this tomorrow, however if the board wasn't nuked and you could have read some of the previous Harlequin promo's before the goodbye promo, you'd see there is no such thing as "too dark". There's getting lost in your gruesomeness where it becomes more about gore instead of a plot device and that harms you, so that's something to watch out for.
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:11 am

This right here is what I love about e-fedding. Everyone is really only interested in making each other better.

There is not a person on the roster who won't benefit from reading that. Even the vets who are well established can use a refresh or a jolt back onto something they had forgotten.

I would like to echo Leon's request for some symbolism tips when approaching match relevance.
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:40 pm

I love Clarke/Harlequin...

Any thoughts on conciseness (if it's a word) or anything else?
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:59 pm

Updated for Austin.
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:44 pm

Very nice to read, Harles! This might just become the page I open next to Word when I want to write a promo Razz

I LOLed at "The dog barked." lol!
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:34 am

Gotta say this was really an interesting read Harlequin, and actually enjoyed it, actually made me think lol, and like 1337 said may have to open this page up next to Word when writing my promo's lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:06 am

I could be completely wrong, but I have often wondered why it appears Harlequin publishes so few African American romance novels in any of its other lines. Over the years it seems as though they only publish them under Kimani Press, Kimani Romance and Kimani Arabesque. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. It seems like I can count on my hands the amount of AA romances I've ever seen under Harlequin Desire, Blaze, Superromance etc. It's confusing to know whether or not it is a conscious choice on Harlequin's part or not. I'd like to think that as a writer I could submit my work to other lines other than Kimani and be considered for those lines as well.

Anyone have any info on this? Are there any AA or AC (African Canadian) writers out that have knowledge or experience in this regard?
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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:52 am

He's right Clarke, why DON'T you write more African American romance!?!

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PostSubject: Re: Harlequin's Writing Tips   Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:23 am

Nicholas Gray wrote:
He's right Clarke, why DON'T you write more African American romance!?!

best laugh I've had in ages. Laughing Laughing Laughing
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