Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lesson 23: Low Tension- Part 1

Good Thursday to you all. I'm finally getting the code errors in my template eradicated thanks to Bonnie Wren ! Ehat a lifesaver this woman is! LOL...she calls it butt-er in-ner, I call it Praise the Lord!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Low Tension: Part 1.
In tonight's lesson, we're going to look at Low Tension part 1, subtitled The Problem with Tea!

Donald Maass, in his workshop on this book teaches authors to cut scenes set in the kitchen or living room or cars driving from one place to another, or that involve drinking tea or coffee or taking showers or baths, particularly in the novel's first fifty pages.

Wonder of wonders! Hardly anyone wants to cut such material. Best selling author Jennifer Cruise even tacked him down at a writers retreat in Kentucky to debate the point about kitchens. She argued without kitchens, how can you tell a family story?

These kind of novels invite you to skim...and most people do! The reason is that in careless hands, such scenes lack tension. They do not add new information. They do not subtract allies , deepen conflict, or open new dimensions of character.

Typically scenes like these are to relax the tension. They do not raise questions or make use tense or worried. No wonder they don't hold people's attention!

Put your tension mete on its most sensitive setting. When your fingers try to type any scene set in a kitchen, living room, or car, I hope your tension meter sinks into the red zone and sets off a screaming alarm in your brain....Low tension alert!

Step 1: Find a scene that involves your hero taking a shower or bath, drinking tea or coffee, smoking a cigarette or reviewing prior action.

Step 2: Cut the scene

Step 3: If you cannot cut the scene, add tension.

Step 4: Find a scene set in a kitchen, living room, office, or in a car that your hero is driving from one place to another.

Step 5: Cut the scene.

Step 6: If you cannot cut the scene, add tension.

Note: The above exercise usually provokes anxiety in workshop participants. The fact is, people usually jump over such pointless review. Another trap is telling us how your hero reached a decision. Why bother? Instead, show us what happens as a result.

Follow-up: Find ten more low-tension scenes to cut or juice up with more tension.

Conclusion: Ninety-nine percent of scenes involving the above categories are by nature inactive. They are usually filler. You think you need them...but probably you don't!

And now...*snicker*...for a joke. I was sworn, under threat to my life...not to reveal who gave this to me...*Sniff* she threatened to slap me...Mwhahahahaha!


Fresh from her shower, she stand in front of the mirror complaining to her
husband that her bust was too small.

Instead of characteristically telling her it's not so, he uncharacteristically
comes up with a suggestion.

"If you want your bust to grow, then every day take a piece of toilet
paper and rub it between them for a few seconds."

Willing to try anything, she fetched a piece of toilet paper and stood in front
of the mirror, rubbing it between her bust.

"How long will this take?" She asked.

"They will grow larger over a period of years," her husband replies.

She stopped. "Do you really think rubbing a piece of toilet paper between my
bust every day will make my bust larger over the years?"

Without missing a beat he says "Worked for your butt, didn't it?"

He's still alive, and with a great deal of therapy, he may even walk again.

Stupid, stupid man!!!!!


  1. M. C. Pearson said...
    HA! Too good...hmmm, I know this wasn't me...who could it be? Debra perhaps?

    So, should I cut my scene with Micks in the kitchen and Mellie in the bathehouse? LOL...NOOOOOO!
    jel said...
    Bernita said...
    Bonnie, we have a psychic link!
    Anonymous said...
    This is one joke I'm so verrrrrrrrrrry glad I'm not responsible for.
    Anonymous said...
    blogger is being nasty this morning
    Crystal said...
    OH oh oh, stupid man indead!!
    Sandra Ruttan said...
    Very funny!

    And your blog works now! Hurrah!
    Soul Reflections said...
    Hey! This was emailed to me and I had nothing to do with it! BONNIE!
    Bonnie S. Calhoun said..., busted!
    Steve said...
    Hey Bonnie,

    Keep on cranking out those oldie but goodie jokes.

    When I first heard this joke from one of my mates, I could hardly stand up for about an hour - because I laughed so much my sides hurt!! Even my wife thought it was funny.

    Would you mind if I link to your site?

    Mindy Tarquini said...
    Kitchen scenes work if your Italian, Bonnie. Our greatest dramas happen around the tomato gravy.

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