Discussing Why We Like Stories #AuthorToolbox (Part 2, The Conscious)

For Part 1, the unconscious, Click Here.

The conscious mind represents the more complex side of every person. The conscious mind takes the simple desires of the unconscious mind and builds more elaborate goals around them. Where the unconscious mind wants to feel and enjoy, the conscious mind wants to overcome a challenge. The conscious mind is the problem solver; cracking codes, assembling pieces, all in an effort to achieve some kind of new understanding, a moment of insight that can only be called an epiphany. The question is, what does the conscious mind want to understand?

Continue reading

Revisiting “Managing Background Information 107-02”

Once again I find myself revisiting old posts and tuning them up.

This time I’ve revisited 107-02, Managing Background Information.

Here’s an excerpt:

5 Methods for Inserting New Information

  1. Create a minor conflict. For example, In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the story creates two minor conflicts that are solved when Hermoine creates magical blue flames, which later become relevant to the climax.
  2. Give a character a hobby or personal interest in the topic. If it’s relevant to the plot that the audience know a few things about ships, then introduce two minor characters who happen to be debating the topic of ships, and insert the relevant details into their conversation. The main characters walk by and happen to overhear what they say. Another method is for a major character to quietly demonstrate their interest. Perhaps they carry around a picture of a ship, or often admire them. Another character could ask them “what are you looking at?” or “why do you always head down to the harbor whenever we reach a town?”
  3. Someone realizes they have a question. In the heat of the moment, events can move very fast. Whether it’s a fight, an accident, or an argument, there isn’t always time to think things through. It isn’t until characters catch their breath that they realize something doesn’t make sense. A Song of Ice & Fire is full of characters so blinded by anger or fear that they rashly leap to conclusions, realizing too late that they’ve been manipulated.
  4. Find a lull in the story, a moment where characters are resting, traveling, or otherwise bored. Someone asks a question, and the answer turns into a story. The question can be about names, or what some old structure is, or why another character behaves a certain way. Someone begins to answer the question, and in the process they reveal more. Fellowship of the Ring is full of stories. Audiences first learn of Moria’s in Rivendell, long before they are forced to make their way through it.
  5. Turn the information into a secret. Someone knew, but for some reason they didn’t want to reveal it. It could be a secret they promised to keep, part of a plan they can’t reveal (for fear of interference), a painful subject, or even something they fear to reveal. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has things they don’t like about themselves, and most try to hide them.
  6. Introduce a new complication, or obstacle, and one of the characters happens to know relevant information. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf and Aragorn are both fountains of information, but they only reveal what’s relevant at the time. Aragorn doesn’t go into the history of Weathertop, or the nature of the people of Rohan, until the story warrants it.

Discussing Book to Movie Conversions (Specifically Ready Player One)

Recently I watched Ready Player One (2018), a movie adaptation of a book I reviewed back in December 2017. Based on the trailers I knew that the character designs had been revised, and suspected that much of the character journeys would also be truncated. I knew that, much like Lord of the Rings, and other book to movie conversions, they would have to cut or condense many things to tell a story in the time they had.

(Warning, the rest of this post may contain specific references to both the book and the movie, so if you are not familiar with either, and you care about spoilers, you may want to refrain.)


Continue reading