Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mike's Stories Tab

Okay everybody, look up.

At the top of this page, not the ceiling.

Got a new tab and it only took a few days to figure out how to do it. Who said blogging was difficult?

As I posted earlier this story goes with the Cowboys and Dragons thing. Not exactly; sheriff not a cowboy, wyvern not a standard dragon and no cafe but blogging is not an exact science. You want Exact? Find a math blog.

Ha, an idea for a blog post.

So, excluding rabid grammarians, most of us would agree, writing is not an exact science. However, there are rules. But those rules can be bent, broken or ignored without consequence if done artfully. Not so with math unless you're dealing with quantum physics.

So, I'm going to give you some rules. Not a top ten list because these are off the top of my head and there may not be ten. We'll call them Mike's Random Rules. In fact, we'll go with Mike's Random Rule of the Day. That will allow discussion on a single rule instead of the comments running willy-nilly every which way causing a quantum meltdown in my hard-drive and head.

Feel free to ignore them if you can do so with style and grace. Or, with attitude if you think I'm full of it.

Mike's Random Rule of the Day

1.) Do not break the fourth wall.

      This is a term from the theater, or theatre, depending on how pretentious you are. It means you should not engage the audience directly. Don't look at them, don't talk to them. The imaginary fourth wall of the set is between you and them. For all practical purposes, they do not exist.

     There are exceptions. The narrator in 'A Christmas Story' talks to the audience. But, most of the time, it's considered bad form and you will be spanked by the director and your fellow actors.


     It pulls them, the audience, out of that hypnotic state where they have suspended disbelief. And that magical state, that journey into make believe where they give over control of their emotions to the actors and crew is why they bought a ticket. Break the fourth wall and you have ruined the experience for them.

      Is it not the same with writing? Do people not buy books to put themselves and their emotions in the hands of the author? If they pay us to take them on a journey, we should do it well and the fourth wall is essential.

     Are there exceptions? Yes. Some books, usually but not always written in first person, cross this line and succeed brilliantly. Most do not, most don't get out there for us to read them.

     But, some do. It is often lamented that famous authors can get away with things we, and by 'we' I mean me and whoever else wishes to include themselves, obscure writers cannot. Stephen King breaks the fourth wall in 'Under The Dome' in a way that throws the reader out of the story and onto the couch with a thump. But, he's Stephen King.

     That's all for today folks.

     Enjoy the story and leave a comment if you like. Think about the fourth wall but don't stew on it too much.



  1. Stephen,I didn't learn about all the 'rules' until I started writing. Every book I have on the shelf has broken one or all of them but they remain my favorite books. What I can't stand is when an author has strangled the life out of the story because it's obvious they were trying not to break a rule. Sometimes, it's necessary.

  2. Shawn, These are exactly the kind of discussions we want to get started here. Thank you for reading and commenting. We're excited to see a stranger's face here. :)

    I agree with you. One of the books I enjoyed the most was the author's first ms. She was all over the place with her POV. I thought it was wonderful, but she was slammed on the writers' loops and in reviews because of her head- hopping. I thought her agent and editor were brilliant to go ahead and publish the book without cleaning up her POV. Now she is a multi-published author and a household name to those of us who read romance. But, she now aheres to more of the rules and, I think, her stories are not as fresh and exciting.

    But I believe that most often, a writer must know the rules before they can get away with breaking them. As unpublished author, even if the rest of my manuscript was engaging and solidly written, I couldn't get away with what Mike is talking about King did in Under the Dome. In the very least, an editor would ask that it get cleaned up.

    I love Stephen King. I've read almost everything he's written. He is a true master storyteller. But there were several things in Under the Dome that threw me out of the story, made me read lines and paragraphs over to try and understand and simply jarred me from the movie he is so adept at playing through words on a page. Each of the times I was taken out of the story, it was because he'd broken one rule or another. On the other hand, it's quite possible a reader, who was not a writer, wouldn't have noticed.

  3. Hi Shawn,

    I also learned of the rules once I started writing and much to the irritation of some former critique partners, I sometimes bent them to my will. Other times I just broke them.

    Now, when one of my crit partners points out a flaw, I most often adjust a few things and the story becomes easier to read, understand, and the writing is just better.

    If you fret and sweat over the rules, the writing will suffer. But if you keep them in mind, writing will improve.

    And if they must be broke, so be it. Just laugh maniacally while you do it. That's what I do.

    Thanks for the comment, Mike

  4. Beautiful blog. You're post is both entertaining and meaningful. As one blogger to another that's great. You have the RSS feed up, excellent and you have the four little boxes that people can click to go to facebook, twitter and the other two places. Some would say that's not enough. I have forever had trouble adding the tweet this, but I've noticed one blogger simply telling those who happen by that "if you feel this post is worthy, go ahead, click the appropriate box below and share it." I think a gentle reminder is good enough.

    You did ask so I will continue. It's great to have Google Friend connect, I clicked on it. Develop a blog roll of your favorite blogs. You can add facebook too as "Networked blogs."

    One very important aspect of blogging is to follower your commenters back to their blog and follow them. I can't tell you how rude it is not to do this. People will simply not come by after awhile. Without divulging any names, some of our RMFW friends do not practice this siting that this person or that doesn't write in their genre. That is so lame. We are all writers and we all need each other.

    You will want to add a site counter. Blogger has them and you can keep it hidden or show case them. A lot of people will scroll down to see how popular you are, so I like to display them. I have more than one. You will want one for page views. I used blogger for that. Another to track the people who came which I added before blogger had the option. But the really cool one is all the flags. If you go to my blog you can click on it and it will direct you to their site where you can select how many flags you want to display. I did them all. Then it will give you an HTLM code that you bring back and install in your HTLM code gadget. Put it anywhere you like.

    That's a lot and all for now. If you have questions you can email me.

    Oh, PS, If you want to build a lot of followers join a blog fest. The A -Z Challenge is coming up. Email me about that and I'll share.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, Special .99 through April 30

  5. Nancy, thank you! I don't think we understand some of this yet, but you gave us ideas and things to work on.

  6. Isn't Nancy a special and helpful lady?

    I have written three novels about a Texas Ranger with the blood of the Angel of Death mixed in with his blood. I only say this because of your title. In the French Quarter of New Orleans, he owns a jazz club that is actually the Crossroads Between Worlds.

    No dragons. Revenants {Vampires sort of}, alien exiles, and all sorts of supernatural beings hang out at his club.

    So we think alike in some ways I think. Follow Nancy's great advise, and you will have a fun time in Blogdom. You have a great looking blog, Roland

    Oh, and some hate the word verification set-up. Just to let you know. I'm not one of them though. Have a fun time here.

  7. Yes, word verification can take extra time and doesn't always respond well. Since blogger has a spam control now, you don't really need word verification.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, Special .99 through April 30