The Rule Book — by Art Holcomb, Part 1

(Quick aside… a few days ago you received a post from me entitled, “Are You the One out of Ten?”  It may have looked familiar… and it should have — it was originally posted on June 24th.  Thing is, I didn’t send it.  I haven’t opened up my WordPress dashboard since well over a week ago.  Some undefined WP gremlin did something undefined that ended up redistributing the post.  I’ve asked all the WP geniuses I know, and nobody can explain it… which means, they secretly believe it was me after all.  Twasn’t.  Theories welcomed.  Sorry to clutter your inbox in this instance.)

The Rule Book — A Guest Post from Art Holcomb

Part 1 of 2

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about motives and consequences.

If there are two separate story paths that exist in each tale we tell, then there is an engine that drives each and they are quite different from one another:

The Plot line moves forward when we ask the question: “What happens next?

The Emotional line develops when we ask, in contrast: “How will my characters react to the next turn-of – events?”

Every story begins at the same place. Act I always starts with a status quo – life as normal – until the Inciting Incident occurs. Then suddenly, something changes and our characters begin their journey by reacting to it. Nothing happens without the Incident and the subsequent and necessary Reaction.

The model is always:

Action –>Emotion –> Reaction –>Emotion -> Action

For example, in the movie Casablanca, Rick is happy running his little café “not sticking his neck out for anyone” (Act I status quo) until his old flame Ilsa arrives with the guy she dumped Rick for (Inciting Incident).  Rick’s old wounds are ripped open (emotion) and he must eventually decide what to do about Ilsa, the letters of transit, and of course, those ever-present Nazis (reaction/consequence).

So . . . The Incident starts the ball rolling. We have an emotional reaction to this event which produces a physical action, which in term elicits its own emotional response elsewhere and the requisite action that follows.

In this way, emotions are the motive for what we do and consequences are the results of acting upon those motives.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have our own hot buttons issue to which we react in predictable ways. It’s only human nature.  For example, some people get sad when they receive a rejection to a submission, while others double down emotionally and get back to work.  Conversely, some people are elated and celebrate when they get a piece accepted for publication, while others become worried that they won’t find a supportive audience. And still others might simply acknowledge the fact and get to work on the next piece.

But, somewhere in the cobwebbed covered vault we call the human psyche, there is a rule book inside all of us.

If you doubt it, ask your spouse, partner or your parents the following question.

Go ahead – I dare you.  Ask them:

“When I am ______ (sad, angry, frightened, or threatened), what do I usually do?”

However, be prepared to be surprised.  We, as people, hardly ever see ourselves as others see us.  Your parents or partners’ answers may surprise you.

In the end, we’re all predictably different . . . and so must our characters be.

You should never be surprised by the way your characters act in your stories.  Each character is unconsciously designed by you to react in a specific and predictable way.  This is natural and necessary because the emotional change we seek in our protagonist at the end of the story – the very thing that makes the character-driven story so powerful and relatable – occurs at the very moment that s/he breaks out of their old pattern, and creates a new rule  –  and identity – for themselves.

Storytelling masters like Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler (both of whom blurbed Larry’s first writing book, “Story Engineering“) talk about this rule change being a return to the very essence of who a character really is, a kind of stripping away of the emotional protective layer that Life forces us all to create as we grow. This change is what brings our hero one step closer to self-realization and his true nature.

So . . . let us turn this vague concept into something concrete and useful.

Let’s take a look at the rules you have given to your characters in your current work.

Here is a downloadable blank MS-Word Chart that shows the various possible character archetypes in your story along the top and the emotions that they are likely to go through in the course of the story listed along the left side.  Both the names and emotions can be easily changed to fit your current tale.  In the appropriate box, write the rule that this character will follow when confronted with this emotion.  For example in the first box would go the answer to, “How does the HERO react when s/he is HURT?”  The boxes will expand to fit whatever notes you want to include.

Complete as many boxes as you can.  Empty boxes may indicate that more thought may be needed to enhance your understanding of the character.

Beware: You may think that there are nuances and subtleties in the way a character would react to, say, being hurt, depending on the cause; but if you look deeper you will find the controlling reaction should always be the same – until growth takes place and that particular rule changes.

Once completed, you will have a snapshot of the emotional range of your story.

This is your canvas.

This is where you will deepen your story.

Use as many colors and techniques as you can.

These emotions, taken as a mosaic of the character’s psyche, supply dimension and depth to the narrative, leading us to understand who that character is, why s/he must change and what they have the chance of becoming.

By completing your own Rule Book chart, you will be able to see the similarities and differences in your characters; some of these differences will suggest plot points, twists and turns you can use that you might not have seen before.

And by understanding the emotional rules of your main characters, you’ll be able to create the most powerful and dramatic emotional journey for your hero.

And isn’t that what we all came to see?

Part 2 of the Rule Book will be along in a couple of days, when we’ll talk about the wealth of story possibilities this process creates.

Until next time, keep writing!

Art

*****

To read Part 2 of this post, click HERE.

Art Holcomb is a screenwriter and comic book creator.  This post is taken from his new writing book, tentatively entitled SAVE YOUR STORY: How to Resurrect Your Abandoned Story and Get It Written NOW!

30 Comments

Filed under Guest Bloggers

30 Responses to The Rule Book — by Art Holcomb, Part 1

  1. Pingback: The Rule Book

  2. Sara Davies

    Thanks. This is amazing. I’m doing it as soon as I’m done posting this.

    But you raise a question – maybe this is the difference between plot-driven and character-driven stories?

    I accidentally read a six or seven book series (didn’t mean to, just sort of happened) in which the main character never changes, learns, or grows, but approaches an external battle in the same way in each book.

    It works fine. The predictability and reliability of the character is part of the appeal.

    The dramatic structure is in place – all the pieces are there – but the main character, I kid you not, does not learn, evolve, change, grow, develop, or gain even the slightest hint of insight or understanding within one story, or over the course of the series.

    What’s up with that?

  3. Big Foot is a myth. Computer gremlins exist. I believe you.

  4. @Sara Davies- I can think of one like that. All of Lee Child’s books are like that, but I still love the series. Still, that doesn’t mean the series couldn’t be even better, I guess.

    In terms of knowing what your character’s do under stress, I like Character Writer, which uses the Enneagram to help you build your characters. It helps you detail all the various aspects of the character, including what they’ll do under stress, and lets you add psychological disorders, a troubled childhood, etc. in order to flesh out the character more.

    The free version doesn’t let you save any of your results, but if you’re willing to control C and control V your way through things, you can get around it.

  5. Art Holcomb

    @Sara: Certain genres like thriller, mystery and others have static protagonists. In these, the most important aspect of all is the Villain’s Plan since s/he owns and controls the Inciting Incident and the entire structure is simplified in that it dedicates itself to the defeat of the Villain. Think Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. But even these characters have their emotional journey, however small – Holmes had Irene Adler and Bond had his wife Teresa.

    These types of story offer us an exciting roller coaster, using excitement and surprise as their appeal. Interesting but at some level often less than satisfying. The more recently popular ones are different, adding that layer of emotion to solidify the all important protagonist – audience connection. Think Jason Bourne as an example.

    The ancient stories and those that follow an emotional arc for the hero connect with us more profoundly because these characters are more like us – somewhat broken and either fear or objective driven. It’s a matter of depth of connection – the key to all human relationships . . .

    . . . even with our favorite literary characters.

    Thanks for writing!

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    Maybe I’ll even have a comment on the post in a couple minutes.

  7. Sara Davies

    @ Rachel: Thanks. I am familiar with the Enneagram, have a few books on that lying around…but what was interesting from doing the above exercise was the discovery that most of my characters behave in similar ways. That can’t be good. Great points.

    @ Art: That is exactly true – the books I’m talking about are thrillers, where the role of the main character is to be unyielding on his path to winning. It works for me because he is a total jack wagon – flawed, unapologetic, driven, doesn’t ask for permission or play by the rules, is not introspective, knows he’s a jerk, compromises for no one, and always wins. If the author changed that, I would be disappointed, as a long-time veteran of various journeys of personal transformation that usually involved listening to someone tell me what’s wrong with me. It’s refreshing to think about not going there, in this age of self-help, where who you are can never be enough. But it is also true that the stories are non-nutritive, flat, one-dimensional. Living with and through the full spectrum of human behavior and emotion in other kinds of books is what gives them their beauty, power, and lasting resonance. Think “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving – one of the most beautiful novels I’ve read. Again: Great post, great list. Thanks.

  8. As always, fantastic post! I love this method because it will allow you as an author to show the readers what your character is feeling through their consistent reactions.

  9. Robert Jones

    Art,

    Nicely done! I copied your chart and plan to use it frequently.

    We all see ourselves a bit differently that other people see us. Most of us do fool ourselves on some level concerning how we might react. Sometimes we surprise ourselves, sometimes we surprise others. Because the flip side of predictibility is that people often see what they want to see, filtered through their individual “reality lens.” Hence, misunderstandings and conflict occurs. But that’s a bit of a sidebar to characters being true to themselves.

    I feel like I’m having a bit of a deja vu moment, since I was just babbling at Sara about this, but people are rarely true to themselves. We have our little epiphanies and wake up for a while, but we allow the haze to slip back over our eyes and shut out the reality once more. We are often predictible bi-products of “other people’s perceptions” of us, what our lives have molded us into, or expected us to be. Even if we know in our heart this is not really the plan, or shouldn’t be, if we followed the nagging sensations that tell us otherwise.

    Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the few authors I’ve read that play this up well. He’s a more literary writer, but what many of his characters believe to be true about themselves is frequently the opposite of truth. In “The Remains of the Day,” the main character’s (a classic English butler) journey is toward identifying his personal truth. Sadly, by the time he does so, the woman he desired was married and it was too late for him to achieve his goal. Then he does what so many people do, he hits the reset button and goes right back to the false life he has always lead. The movie was also very good, if you happen to like those Merchant/Ivory period pieces–like I do. But I think the book stated it more clearly in the end that he hoped to make a difference by going back to serve a new master in the end. An important gentlemen. And that his servitude would mean something if such an important gentleman aspired to do good work. Because that was a butler’s class, their duty, and their cultural rut in life.

    We all have a preconstructed mold. We run screaming from it in our rebelious teens, but few keep running until the discover their own path. What is reality but a construct of views, mostly myths, that becomes the cement that binds (or traps) society within a given set of rules.

    And what is our story but a set of rules binding out characters? We establish those rules, then create disruption for our main character. A storm of change blows into their lives, forcing an action. And how do we, as humans, deal with change? Never well.

    Response (or reaction), spirals our hero out of control as they attempt to come to grips with what might be percieved as an attack, an attempt to control, or make the character the victim of someone else’s plans and schemes.

    What follows, as Art ably illustrates, is another type of reaction…a quest for reasons, answers, resolution. And in doing so, our character defines who they are, what their role is. His/her personal truth. And that emotional journey defines how they will react from the core of who our characters are. Is it everything that has defined their lives up to that point? Or is it breaking the chains that have bound them, misconceptions, or falshoods, that really made that character the victim in a given set of circumstances?

    And I really love Art’s model and how it reminds us that the final step is to take action once again. Whether that new action leads us to freedom, or the hero get slapped down and hits the reset button, or martyrs him/herself for the cause, the end of that journey has to be true to who they are emotionally and structurally at heart.

    Because it is only through releasing the notions of fear and the preconceived, that freedom follows…and the courage to take whatever that final action might entail.

    Thanks again, Art, for this thought inspiring, and very timely post 🙂

  10. Sara Davies

    I love Jessica’s comment – that you show the reader what the character feels through their consistent reactions. Which is great for me to hear as I think about dialogue, and giving dramatic shape to an idea.

    But a story is an idealized version of life, in that, from what I have observed, most people don’t change or grow very much. The acorn turns into an oak tree, not an elephant. In fiction, we get to pretend that real transformation takes place, and can be big enough to make a difference and change the world, encapsulating desires like the pursuit of excellence, mastery, or artistry – analogous to what we struggle with internally but rarely achieve in reality, except for the ways the dramatic trajectory of a story mirrors the creative process itself. Don’t we wish real transformation were possible? How often does that happen? How many people change the world – about three per century? The inner ongoing battle between choosing between what’s right over what’s convenient, defining a personal mission, responding to the stages of life, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves – all of it is big, active, noisy, crazy stuff, most of it invisible to others. But in fiction, it can look like an intergalactic war, and have far-reaching consequences. If you can write something that changes one person’s experience, even for a short time, that is an achievement.

    There is a tale in my culture…God was asked to remove the ego, the evil inclination, from humanity. When he did, no one got out of bed, went to work, built, planted, created anything, or bothered to have children. As people saw nothing could happen without the evil inclination, they asked God to return it. Our inner demons have their place as a force for change. They don’t need to be eradicated, they need to be sent where they can do something useful.

  11. Robert Jones

    @Sara–I remember an episode of the original Star Trek when someone offered to take away Kirk’s emotional pain. He refused, stating that his pain was what made him who he was.

    An interesting area to explore. I’m attempting to do a little of that in my story, the fear of opening up and exposing pain, releasing purpose. Once having done so, however, once the past is burned in the proverbial fire, what then? And how much effect can our hero have in terms of making lasting changes? Because it’s an ongoing battle in most cases.

    In reality, how much of the battle is with ourselves, setting our views against that of others, each believing we know what’s best. I’ve heard a similar tale about good and evil, black and white, being merely different shades within the same spectrum. To find harmony, or one’s destiny, one eventually must embrace both in order to understand they complement one another. We are also quite busy fighting our own duality, feeling that we all have to choose one side, that most forget we are all both…and can’t stand that part of ourselves we are inwardly against. So we set up emotional transference and channel that anger against everyone who is different than we are in order to take the higher ground, look righteous, start a murderous crusade. And what have we learned from fiction? That we can’t conquer our outer problems before we resolve the inner turmoil.

    That’s right people, you’ve heard the secret to ending humanties wars, right here on Storyfix!!!

  12. @Sara — hmmm… that’s a pretty cool concept for a new story: what if God DID remove all evil intentions NOW, for a while, to see what happens? And then, show us what happens, build a story around it (which is what a concept is FOR, after being provocative in its own right). Alternate reality/fantasy/metaphysic woo-woo… that could work! Larry

  13. Sara Davies

    @ Larry:

    According to that story, was happened was pretty boring. But that theory could be put to the test. 😉

    @ Art:

    Just wanted to say I loved your essay toward the end of Larry’s “warm hugs” book, where you wrote about your mother’s death and how that experience leaked into your writing at an early age. My father was a paranoid schizophrenic who was homeless for four years, disappeared, later returned half-starved, no teeth. He was a drunk, prone to fits of rage, and sucked the light out of every room he ever entered. The chaos he brought into our lives was relentless. It’s painful to watch someone suffer like that and be completely helpless to do anything about it. Some things are broken and can’t be fixed – I got that really early. I took care of him from the time I was a little kid – listened to him rant, calmed him down, kept him company, but I was always terrified because I never knew what he was going to do next. Constant vigilance.

    Anyway, I wanted to comment on this because as I go through the stages of trying to learn the intellectual ingredients to making a story work – structure, sequencing, all of the objective criteria Larry talks about – and I’m starting to feel like I’m catching on, it’s making sense – when I sit down to write, I feel like what really makes it hard, harder than doing the work to understand and line up the essential components – is living through the emotions of the characters on the page. I can’t think my way through that – maybe some people can? I keep wondering if that’s normal. Is it like this for everyone? A huge amount of emotional heavy lifting. It’s a bitch. Like I’m the one who has to fight my way through the story. It’s exhausting. So I appreciate what you said because you sort of made that OK. Like it’s not a bad thing. That’s a really big deal to me. Thanks for that. Just saying.

    @ Robert:

    Here’s one for you – another story from some 18th century rabbi or other (I should know who, but I don’t)…went about trying to reform his country for a number of years, but that didn’t work, so he decided he had taken on too much and chose to instead try to reform his town, but after another decade that wasn’t working for him either, so he tried to reform just his congregation, then his neighborhood, his family, and finally concluded that he couldn’t repair anyone until he first repaired his own soul. There’s one for the Emotional Autobiography archives, huh? You rock.

  14. Norma

    Great post, but I am not able to bring up the chart. I have my pop up blocker off. When I click I get a blank page. I’m using my MacBook Pro with Safari. Thoughts?

  15. Martha

    Norma, I have a MacBook Air using Safari and I was able to get the chart. I hope you’re able to figure out a way to get to it. It’s a great tool, and is going to be fun to use, not to mention helpful and thought-provoking!

  16. Martha

    PS to Norma: I just tried it again and realize that the chart is actually downloaded into your Downloads folder. You can access it at the upper right-hand corner of your Safari screen. There you’ll see a small down-arrow icon in a circle in a small box. Click on that arrow and you should see a listing of recent downloads. Click on the Chart-1. docx icon and voila! It should appear.
    I hope that works for you.

  17. This was an interesting exercise. In writing my current book, one of the things I’ve tried to do is make the emotion a lot more realistic, so this chart is a good tool for ensuring consistency and even bringing in inconsistency when appropriate. It certainly showed just what a twisted lady the Trickster actually is.

    My Mentor’s response to almost all of these was “get drunk.” Since he’s an alcoholic, I guess that makes sense.

    It also pointed out to me how lonely my Hero actually is, even though he doesn’t realize it. It was interesting to see him in this form because he has a way of closing himself off and staying in the background, but also acting. He doesn’t talk about doing things, he just does them because he is too shy and closed off to talk them over first. This trait actually is what sets the story in motion. By the end, he has to learn to talk because planning becomes more and more important for the events of the story.

    The Villain was the difficult one. I can picture his lust. I can’t picture his love, especially with the way he turns on people when they’re not “useful” to him anymore. But, this may be due to his background. He may not allow himself to feel love and squash it if it occurs. So, maybe while writing this post I came up with something to put in that box.

  18. Art Holcomb

    @Sara: I appreciate your kind words and am impressed on how far you’ve come given your situation.

    Writing – good, deep human writing – cannot help but touch on these sensitive parts of our life, perhaps in part because it was these very issues that brought you to writing in the first place. And you’re in good company – pain has been at the center of many of the world’s great works of literature. It molds us and pushes us. Pain and love and acceptance and purpose can all be tied up in one unfathomable bubble. I remember writing once that “a slap is just a very hard, very fast caress” so I understand.

    Writing helped me get a grip on my own personal loss, first by writing around the issue, then writing about it directly and later by using the power of what I’ve learned to tell stories that had meaning to me. Writing can be both therapy and theraputic but it’s important to separate the two. I found writing in many formats (stageplay, screenplays, poetry, short fiction) allowed me to explore my own situation from different perspectives. I still go back to the well of my own personal losses for inspiration – and there is always plenty of water there , but the writing through my pain also lead me to USE my pain, and it has made me what I am now.

    Keep going and don’t be afriad of what you find there.Show your work to both people who know you and to quality writers so as to stay on track and you’ll get there.

    Above all, have faith that you’ll get there.

    A

  19. Robert Jones

    @Norma–I haven’t attempted to open the chart in my Macbook, but it worked well enough on my Ipad. I clicked near the top of the page and a link that said “Open with Pages” popped up. From there it went straight to my cloud, so I’ll have access to it on both devices. Most downloads on Macbook, however, have gone straight to my downloads folder. If there’s a lot in there, it can get a bit lost in the jumble and I won’t always see until I clear some things out.

    @Sara–The more I hear about your father, the more I can see my own under different circumstances. Rampaging father, terrified mother, constant vigilance, all were a way of life during my own childhood. Only it didn’t stop there. My mother maintained her vigil until she became ill and died. More on that a little later.

    @Art–You’ve stated it beautifully. My brother and I have frequently felt like survivors of a plane crash that fragmented everything into so many tiny pieces, we have sometimes wondered how we made it out alive. Trying to figure out what all the hellatious suffering was supposed to be about can be a real mystery at times. We both learned a lot from creative writing, which seems to tap into the pain like no other outlet. But it also begins to sort it out and bring a certain order from within. Somehow resolving those inner demons in fiction, you can’t help but begin to resolve some of your own.

    I don’t believe it is a mistake that such issues have lead many of us to writing. Often life points, we just have to pay attention to where it’s pointing us.

  20. Norma

    Thanks, Martha. I found it in my downloads folder.

  21. Sara Davies

    @ Robert:

    I think you’re touching on what Art brings up – and we’ve discussed this a little. The ongoing challenge seems to be how to use all that pain and junk – and make it work for us, make it live on the page through the characters and the stories we create – rather than being pushed around by it. How to shape, direct, control, funnel, and orchestrate this enormous inner resource – and I think it can be that if you know what to do with it, plus it damn well should be – how to get to it when you need it and convert it to usable form. My brain is always buzzing on overtime with this stuff, right? So I was thinking about all of the hideous and hair-raising experiences I have had, right along with the most horrific gems I’ve heard from the lives of other people I’ve known and cared about. Kind of laughing to myself – when I was a kid I thought I’d seen and heard everything. An older friend said, “You’re too young to be so cynical,” and I said, “Yeah? How old do I have to be?” I was pretty cocky about it. Little did I know how much more really awful stuff was out there – the depth, breadth, and insanity of it – which other people had survived, and sometimes even thrived in spite of, defiantly, or because they were able to transcend and let go like Job. Right? Wait. What was I talking about? Oh yeah – the characters. Plus the CONCEPTS. And the intersection between them. How to make them REAL. We’re not looking to paste on a bunch of ideas from outside, mechanically, but want to go deep into the territory of raw personal truth, as icky as that sounds. Ew. How to make all of that bad stuff count, translate it and turn it into an experience for other people that they can take with them.

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts about how you have made those translations happen. Have you made conscious choices about it, or does that emerge organically for you? The approaches I seem to have the best handle on are expressionistic and metaphorical, but I keep thinking there has to be a method – beyond bumbling around hoping to get it right. Which is part of why a logical, criteria-driven framework is so important. But how do you take the dry, intellectual part of it and not simultaneously kill the emotional stuff? Can they be integrated in a mutually enhancing way? Etc.

    @ Art:

    Roger that. Thank you.

  22. Robert Jones

    @Sara–I use such things by finding common denominators in life, similar experiences, or experiences that can be traced back to a single branch. I’ve mentioned fear, and decisions based on that due to failure, pressures, or the fear factor the media spews out with their daily doses of brainwashing. When I can trace my own circumstances back to a point of origin, it helps me to understand them better. And writing does that for me.

    My art did as well, but I was always writing stories along with my art, homemade comic books and the like. So I think being in that creative zone just helps us digest that raw material and in understanding, we find better uses for it. We grow along with out work. And hopefully at some point both are singing in a way on the page that touches those emotions in others.

    Speaking of raw material, I’ve sent you some to add to your mental library. Everything helps us to see the bigger picture from a more expansive view. So hopefully you’ll get something from it.

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  24. Robert Jones

    Hey Bob–I purchased Dragon several years ago after a car accident gave me some neck problems. Thought it would be able to sit back and rest comfortably while writing in some futuristic, high-tech fashion. There were pros and cons to that theory…mostly cons.

    First of all, you need to invest in a comfortable headset with mic, the cheap set provided with the software starts to hurt within about ten minutes.

    Then you have to speak very clearly for the program to interpret the words correctly. They say it automatically adjust to the way you speak. But in writing something with as many words as a novel, there are just too many words to adjust to properly. And no matter how clearly I spoke, word sounds would blur together in sentences and form words not spoken. Lots of errors. Some of them were hilarious, but can’t be repeated here.

    I also dicovered that speaking words and writing via a keyboard were two different things. Speaking is certainly faster, as advertised, but how many writers can thing of great sentences on the fly throughout the length of a novel?

    The one thing I discovered that was useful was in getting a first draft down quick and dirty. If you’re the kind of writer who just wants to blast through that first draft in order to get the raw material down on paper…and fix all the errors while perfecting the second draft, then Dragon can be pretty handy in catapulting you ahead on that initial run through.

    Other than that, I can only hope they’ve improved the program since the version I had because you’ll just put it away and forget about it after that.

    If anyone has had better luck with recent versions, I would be interested.

  25. Robert Jones

    Okay…where did Bob’s post go?

  26. Bob

    Awesome Robert, thanks for the reply. Yeah I definitely like the speed thing. I’ve only used it about 2 weeks now. Dragon is now on version 12 and it’s getting pretty good at recognition, prolly about 95% if you enunciate clearly. I see that you believe it changes the way a writer actually composes sentences and therefore the art itself. Typing sort of forces you to think a little more when crafting sentences, which is kind of my take on the whole topic. I believe the sci-fi author David Weber uses speech to text software though.
    I see my original post got deleted. Maybe they didn’t like that it was off topic, however I don’t see a forum that I can ask questions like this in so I figured I’d try to get it in somewhere.

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  28. Robert Jones

    I think if it comes under different writing techniques, as opposed to product questions…maybe that’s the ticket.

    Incorporating this in with Art’s basic model (as much as possible) of response followed by action, thought for some writers is considered best when that action is spontaneous. I think interesting things can happen from spontaneous word crafting. Does thought begin as an action, or a response to certain stimuli?

    It never comes out right without applying careful thought, another action followed by the response of whatever is first brought to the page…unless you get very lucky with some passages here and there…which happens.

    My personal philosophy is that all “ideas” begin with a sort of spontaneous flash of thought. But how many require no further development?

    Apply that to dictating a book, either through a software program, or a tape recorder, and you still end up reworking most of it get the words right by going back over it in draft. But I like experimenting with different techniques. You never know what might work for you, personally. Even going from project to project, different techniques can bring about a variety of results. That’s why artists experiment with different brushes, various hardnesses of pencil lead, etc.

  29. Pingback: The Rule Book — by Art Holcomb, Part 2

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