I Want To Tease My Readers The Right Way – The Violet Project Diaries – Entry 12

I Want To Tease My Readers The Right Way

For a good page turner, you have to do more than a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are our scapegoat for suspense. Avid readers catch on to that real quick. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors on suspense, Donna Tartt, “Suspense is when two people are having a conversation and there’s a bomb counting down to explode under their table.” Oh the many factors to consider… Do the characters talk about the bomb? Are they oblivious? Is one character beating around the bush about the bomb? Does the other character understand the other’s subtext? Is the bomb noticeable? Is the bomb ticking loudly or silently? Is the timer for the bomb a good amount of time or minutes away from going off? Who planted the bomb? Considering the factors needed for a suspenseful page turner is all about context. If it isn’t rich enough, the audience will assume the predictable: the bomb will go off, the characters will die and that means the characters weren’t important in the first place. In other words, lack of context makes the audience apathetic and cliches make them cynical. All interest dies. So, while I was thinking about the resolution for the first part of my novel hoping to make sure I don’t emotionally shutdown my audience, I did my best to keep it like a chess game and maintain the captivation through a series of power plays.

What is neoclassicism? – Literary Terms 101

neoclassicism: The dominant literary movement in England during the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth century, which sought to revive the artistic ideals of classical Greece and Rome. Neoclassicism was characterized by emotional restraint, order, logic, technical precision, balance, elegance of diction, an emphasis on form over content, clarity, dignity and decorum. Its appeals were to the intellect rather than to the emotions, and it prized wit over imagination. As a result, satire and didactic literature flourished, as did the essay, the parody, and the burlesque. In poetry, the heroic couplet was the most popular verse form…Neoclassicism survives in the twentieth century in works that exhibit the styles, forms, and attitudes of classical antiquity and that emphasize the importance of universality, objectivity, impersonality, and careful craftsmanship.

Popular writers from this period: John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, Samuel Johnson.

The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms


Writing Advice

Vulnerability makes the writer…Read more…

Bram Stoker taught us so much in Dracula…Read more…


My Take on “Neoclassicism”

So, I would say that if you’re a fan of the fiction/mystery subgenre dark academia, then you’re already into neoclassicism. Wit over imagination surely meets the dark academia standard; knowledge and how you use it will always supersede fantasies unless that act of escapism tickles us intellectually with faint crack of a character’s psyche. I am and always will be a proud aesthete, but as an essayist and student of literary criticism, I’m naturally akin to this movement because it’s naturally noble and disciplined. Especially when I write a research article, objectivity is crucial. I do admire this movement though the more I think about it, the more paradoxical it seems. Technique, balance, and elegance are all good and well, but chaos and all its messes are beautiful too. I think those immersed in this movement knew that, thus the satire, parody, and burlesque.

First Draft Progress – 8 Days Until Deadline

Oh my! Almost down to a week!

Words Written (yesterday): about 1000-1300? I lost track while traveling…
Current Word Total: about 98500 words.

Research Topics:

  • British, Scottish, and Irish accents
  • Better development of LGBT+ relationships
  • Cool names for islands

I have about six chapters left in my story, plus an epilogue and a prologue. It’s quite the challenge and I’m excited to take it on. I’m hoping that even though I’m traveling a lot I’ll be able to complete this. The pressure of a deadline is actually helping me more than crippling me. I’m thinking more critically about plot. I’m reaching the climax/transformative revelation of my protagonist, but there’s still so much rising action that’s needed. I’m trying to weigh what is and isn’t necessary. It’s easier said than done. When you’re trying to build up suspense, you don’t want to lose momentum unless slowing down the momentum makes it agonizing in a satisfying kind of way, like, as Donna Tartt wonderfully put it, people having a casual conversation somewhere and there’s a bomb under the table they’re sitting at. When’s it going to go off? You’ll have to wait. Although I do like that style, the suspenseful elements in my novel are fueled by momentum. There’s always something going on in with the protagonist in the span of a week because of one choice she made. I want the stress to be focused on her and how she’ll be able to sustain everything going around her. We’ll see how it goes.

Also, I ended up writing two LGBT relationships that are so…complicated?! Ugh! I’m kind of upset with myself for doing that. It’s just not fair representation. I need to display simplistic and successful LGBT relationships. I was thinking way too hard about them. Gonna fix that.

Lastly, accents. I gave one of my characters a type of accent that’s a mix of Brit, Scot, and Irish. It’s VERY fun to write his dialogue.

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First Draft Progress – 19 Days Until Deadline Pt. 2

Words Written: 964 words (haha. lame.)
Current Word Total: 92,219 words

Things I need To Research:

  • More Scifi, specifically things with robots, mecha, androids, and cyborgs
  • Reincarnation
  • Psychology

Additional Work: More character design and more practice in writing trauma and suspense scenes…This is probably why I wrote so little… I mean… I just…I don’t know. I love psychological trauma in stories, but writing it is a whole different ball game.

What is Hamartia? Literary Terms 101

Hamartia: “The error, misstep, frailty, or flaw that causes the downfall of a tragic hero. Sometimes called the tragic flaw… bad judgment, ignorance, accident, inherited weakness, or plain bad luck…Whatever the error or defect, it results in action (or inaction) that leads to disaster. – NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms by Kathleen Morner and Ralph Rausch (1991).

I strongly recommend getting this dictionary if you’re a fiction writer.

My Take on Hamartia In Writing

Hamartia must appear in every story, if you think about. It’s necessary conflict (internal and external). How else is your character going to develop if they don’t endure some sort of issue that is placed upon them or self-perpetuated? Many authors understood that any type of tragedy or disaster makes audiences feel pity, fear, or satisfaction for the character(s) affected by it. One example off the top of my head is (vague Game of Thrones spoilers ahead!!) is Hodor who just…had to hold that damn door and shatter my heart into a million pieces.

I’ve seen tragedy hit the whole spectrum of archetypes, even though this definition focuses solely on the tragic hero since the Greek Classics have most protagonists fail due to their prideful nature. It has to happen because that’s what makes a plot work; that’s what makes characters relatable. Audiences want to see the character confront disaster, whether they survive it or not because it echoes reality, you succeed or you fail. However, tragedy is not that black and white. Some rise from the ashes of their suffering and some don’t, but transformation is inevitable. Even when a villain faces disaster in death, and I mean a well-crafted villain with backstory, motive, and ambition, you see them as more than just the bad guy who got what they deserved. If anything, it should poke at the audience’s moral compass encouraging them to question their ethical boundaries (because pitying a villain is strange to some and accepted by others).

Additionally, adding a little metaphysical take on this, the act of manifesting or weaving your own destiny is common in stories and hamartia plays in the mix of that. Most of us prefer calling it “reaping what you sow”, but in the metaphysical community, we call that “The Dark Night of the Soul“, where you’re in a place of complete sacrifice or surrender and come to terms with whether you’ll endure what’s happening to you by trusting yourself to survive it or choose to despair and desperately mourn that you didn’t reach your ego-based expectations. I don’t think hamartia is enticing if it becomes the definite annihilation of the character where they’re damned for eternity for their purposeful or accidental sin and that’s it. A choice must be made. Hamartia exudes its greatest effect as an inevitable, destructive force that shows no bias to any archetype and shouldn’t be considered “evil” or “just”, “bad” or “good”, but simply destined to appear before you and demand you make a choice, which can be taking action or being inactive.

I’ll be sharing more literary terms in the future, but seriously, get the dictionary of literary terms. Maybe I’m being a lit nerd and pushing too hard, but it’s just…fun to read. Especially if you like learning random new things.