Du bør grundlæggende undgå alt, hvad der forstyrrer eller er irrelevant for din fortælling og læsningen af den. Men du kan næppe undgå alle fælder, det er der ingen, der gør. Og sommetider kan enkelte af elementer, som nogen vil betegne som begynderfejl, fungere fint i mindre doser. Men lad være med at tage hele menuen af faldgruber.
Tag et aktivt valg på et oplyst grundlag og tjek, hvilke du er falder i undervejs i skrivningen – frivilligt eller ufrivilligt. Brug gerne tjeklister mellem dine udkast, eller når du mangler overblik eller inspiration. Stil bl.a. dig selv alle de irrierende spørgsmål, som andre forfattere stiller sig selv og deres manuskript og lav med tiden din egen tjekliste. Og husk, at selvom forfatterne måske er erfarne og storsælgende – eller ved meget om skrivning, er det ikke sikkert, at alle deres råd holder i enhver situation.
GENEREL TJEKLISTE TIL DIT MANUSKRIPT
1. Åbner eller slutter du slapt eller virker en af delen afkoblet fra resten af manuskriptet?
2. Forklarer og refererer du i stedet for at demonstrere? Husk: Show don’t tell.
3. Holder dit manuskript sig til den genre, du skriver i?
4. Er der klicheer i fx handlingen, blandt karaktererne, i sproget?
5. Har du for mange temaer og budskaber? Prøv om du kan nøjes med et enkelt eller to.
6. Er dine karakterer svage tyndbenede eller mangler de dybe? Lev dig ind i dem, giv dem en baggrundshistorie.
7. Har din Protagonist nok på noget på spil og er har vedkommende tilstrækkeligt med vilje, mål, motivation og udfordringer til at læserne lærer vedkommende at kende?
8. Kæmper din protagonist? Ingen gider følge passive typer, der er tilskuere til deres eget liv.
9. Har du sidehistorier eller scener, der ikke bringer historien videre eller bidrager til at beskrive karakterer? Skær fedtet fra og hold dig på sporet.
10. Har du adverbier? Du behøver dem ikke. Det samme gælder udråbstegn, semikolon, parenteser.
11. Er dine sætninger slappe sætninger og har de fx mange adjektiver? Find gerne mere interessante og præcise metoder til at skrive og beskrive.
12. Har du fyldord som fx altså, faktisk, dog, virkelig? Du behøver dem næppe.
Er der udfordringer, der på magisk vis løser sig selv? Lad hellere hovedkaraktererne kæmpe.
14. Bruger du ord som jamrede, irettesatte, råbte, formanede. Overvej i stedet at bruge sagde hun/han.
15. Får læseren nemt ved at holde styr på synsvinklerne og på hvis hoved, man er inde i, er de tydeligt adskilt?
16. Bidrager dialogen til handling eller beskrivelse af karakterer? Overvej at skære den til, og gøre den realistisk og mundret.
17. Er handlingen eller plottet forudsigelig og bliver dine læsere og karakterer overrasket?
18. Har du skabt tilstrækkelig konflikt, så der er pres på din hovedkarakter, så vedkommende træder i karakter?
19. Appellerer din fortælling til sanser og følelser eller savner den beskrivelser af dufte, lyde, syn etc.?
20. Emmer din fortælling af, at du er ukritisk forelsket i dine egne ordstrømme eller så kritisk overfor dem, at du holder igen og har suget dit manuskript tørt for saft og kraft?
21. Er din tekst en rodekasse med sprog, der er slapt, ensformigt, knudret, rodet, fyldt med lange ordguirlander, uengageret, uden at appellere til følelser og sanser? Bliv bedre til at sortere, ordne og lægge det hele mere overskueligt og appetitligt frem.
22. Synes du selv, det er spændende at læse dit manuskript, eller skipper du passager i teksten? Skriv igennem, indtil du selv gider læse din egen tekst igen og igen.
FILMSELSKABETS PIXARS INPUTS TIL ET GODT MANUSKRIPT
- Rule #1: You admire a character more for trying than for their successes
- Rule #2: You’ve got to keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience. Not what’s fun to do as a writer. The two can be very different.
- Rule #3: Trying for theme is important. However you won’t see what the story is about until you’re at the end of the story. Got it? Now rewrite.
- Rule #4: Once upon a time there was______. Every day _______. One day________. Because of that,______. Until finally______.
- Rule #5: Simplify. Focus. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- Rule #6: What’s your character good at/most comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Rule #7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously, endings are hard. Get yours working up front.
- Rule #8: Finish your story. Let go if it isn’t perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
- Rule #9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what would and wouldn’t happen next. Material to get you Unstuck will show up.
- Rule #10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
- Rule #11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
- Rule #12: Discount the first idea that comes to mind. And the 2nd, and the 3rd and 4th and 5th. Get the obvious ones out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- Rule #13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likeable as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
- Rule #14: Why must you tell this story? What’s the belief burning within you that this story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
- Rule #15: If you were your character in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- Rule #16: What are the stakes? Give us a reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against them.
- Rule #17: No work is ever wasted. If it doesn’t work, let go and move on. It’ll come back around and be useful later.
- Rule #18: You have to know yourself: the difference between being yourself and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- Rule #19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great, coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- Rule #20: Exercise: Take the building blocks out of a movie you dislike. How’d you arrange them into what you do like?
- Rule #21: You gotta identify with your characters/situations. You can’t just write “cool.” What would make you act that way?
- Rule #22: What’s the essence of your story? The most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
FORFATTEREN STEPHEN KINGS MEST CITEREDE SKRIVETIPS fra hans bog Stephen King on writing (på dansk: Stephen King om at skrive)
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”
2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe. The timid fellow writes “The meeting will be held at seven o’clock” because that somehow says to him, ‘Put it this way and people will believe you really know. ‘Purge this quisling thought! Don’t be a muggle! Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write ‘The meeting’s at seven.’ There, by God! Don’t you feel better?”
3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend. Consider the sentence “He closed the door firmly.” It’s by no means a terrible sentence, but ask yourself if ‘firmly’ really has to be there. What about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before ‘He closed the door firmly’? Shouldn’t this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, then isn’t ‘firmly’ an extra word? Isn’t it redundant?”
4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.” “While to write adverbs is human, to write ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is divine.”
5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. “
6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.”
7. Read, read, read. “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second to least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
9. Turn off the TV. “Most exercise facilities are now equipped with TVs, but TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs. If you feel you must have the news analyst blowhard on CNN while you exercise, or the stock market blowhards on MSNBC, or the sports blowhards on ESPN, it’s time for you to question how serious you really are about becoming a writer. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keigh Obermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”
10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
11. There are two secrets to success. “When I’m asked for ‘the secret of my success’ (an absurd idea, that, but impossible to get away from), I sometimes say there are two: I stayed physically healthy, and I stayed married. It’s a good answer because it makes the question go away, and because there is an element of truth in it. The combination of a healthy body and a stable relationship with a self reliant woman who takes zero shit from me or anyone else has made the continuity of my working life possible. And I believe the converse is also true: that my writing and the pleasure I take in it has contributed to the stability of my health and my home life.”
12. Write one word at a time. “A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”
13. Eliminate distraction. “There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”
14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what the writer is doing may seem. You can’t aim a book like a cruise missile, in other words. People who decide to make a fortune writing lik John Grisham or Tom Clancy produce nothing but pale imitations, by and large, because vocabulary is not the same thing as feeling and plot is light years from the truth as it is understood by the mind and the heart.”
15. Dig. “When, during the course of an interview for The New Yorker, I told the interviewer (Mark Singer) that I believed stories are found things, like fossils in the ground, he said that he didn’t believe me. I replied that that was fine, as long as he believed that I believe it. And I do. Stories aren’t souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all the gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.”
16. Take a break. “If you’ve never done it before, you’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience. It’s yours, you’ll recognize it as yours, even be able to remember what tune was on the stereo when you wrote certain lines, and yet it will also be like reading the work of someone else, a soul-twin, perhaps. This is the way it should be, the reason you waited. It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings that it is to kill your own.”
17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your ecgocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”
18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “If you do need to do research because parts of your story deal with things about which you know little or nothing, remember that word back. That’s where research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it. You may be entranced with what you’re learning about the flesh-eating bacteria, the sewer system of New York, or the I.Q. potential of collie pups, but your readers are probably going to care a lot more about your characters and your story.”
19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Faulkner learned his trade while working in the Oxford, Mississippi post office. Other writers have learned the basics while serving in the Navy, working in steel mills or doing time in America’s finer crossbar hotels. I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
Which of these rules do you like best?
FORFATTEREN KURT VONNEGUTS TIPS
i hans bog How to Use the Power of the Printed WordFind a Subject You Care About
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.
Do Not Ramble, Though
I won’t ramble on about that.
Keep It Simple
As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story ‘Eveline’ is just this one: ‘She was tired.’ At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.
Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.’
Have the Guts to Cut
It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.
Sound like Yourself
The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench. […]
I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.
Say What You Mean to Say
I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable — and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledly-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.
Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.
Pity the Readers
Readers have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don’t really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school — twelve long years.
So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient teachers, ever willing to simplify and clarify, whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.
That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.
For Really Detailed Advice
For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, a more technical sense, I commend to your attention The Elements of Style, by Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. E. B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.
You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.
FORFATTEREN HENRY MILLER i sin bog Henry Miller on Writing
1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring.
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilisers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.