Old 07-24-2014, 07:02 AM   #1
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PLOT vs IMPROVISATION

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suqSXWu9ddI

Plot is indicative of Romantic writing. Plot is artifice shaped to resemble experience trimmed of bone and fat.


Improvisation is indicative of Existential writing, that is, shit happens without design. It contains bone and gristle. Note that the kid uses no score, and how the sound improves as the music creation comes from the subconscious. Conscious composition uses the Crayola 8 pack, Subconscious creation uses the big box of 128 colors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xvdXZ28sHk
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:36 AM   #2
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6s49OKp6aE

A good example of flow. Words are sounds so skill with one oughta be transferable to the other, and is in choral music.
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:19 AM   #3
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With or without gristle, stories are best stewed with well-written dialogue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myhnAZFR1po
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:13 AM   #4
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With or without gristle, stories are best stewed with well-written dialogue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myhnAZFR1po
My ma's feral kin over in Polk (pronounced POKE) County.
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:17 AM   #5
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Both styles of which you speak have their pros and cons. All depends heavily on the author, the creator of the art.

On the one hand you have plot, or what here could be called plotting. People get the spark for stories and they start filling in the blanks. Asking questions. What's the story arch? Main ideas and themes? What are my character palettes? This happens at the beginning. This fills the middle. I'll end it like this or that. Some folks use outlines or spreadsheets, or any other organizational references to keep the train on the tracks.

Then we have improv, as you've given us. Improv is basically just tapping your brain and letting it flow forth. There's no design, rather the story is built on the fly. In a way, everything that happens is not artificially crafted to fit, but placed perfectly like a tetris piece that falls where it should.

I do both. I think no one way is better than the other as they are each advantageous and detrimental. To a certain extent I plan my little plot out. What's going to be happening and all that. This is good because it allows for order. Whereas with too much improv, writing on the fly, you can sometimes create a pure scatterbrained and misaligned mess. It can get too crazy. Yet in contrast, too much plotting and planning and outlining and sticking to formulas can make the writing feel empty. Everything will be perfectly in place, but it'll sometimes feel too robotic or simulated.

So indeed. I mix the two. I don't write a formula, but I have a game plan. I don't just throw shit together and hope it sticks, but I improv enough that my muse doesn't feel chained. Some folks only use 8 crayons and color something mediocre. To the same effect though, people could use 150 colors and create a mess. Some can use a mere four colors and blow your mind. Some use 120 and weave them into one huge weeping watercolor.
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:25 AM   #6
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Both styles of which you speak have their pros and cons. All depends heavily on the author, the creator of the art.

On the one hand you have plot, or what here could be called plotting. People get the spark for stories and they start filling in the blanks. Asking questions. What's the story arch? Main ideas and themes? What are my character palettes? This happens at the beginning. This fills the middle. I'll end it like this or that. Some folks use outlines or spreadsheets, or any other organizational references to keep the train on the tracks.

Then we have improv, as you've given us. Improv is basically just tapping your brain and letting it flow forth. There's no design, rather the story is built on the fly. In a way, everything that happens is not artificially crafted to fit, but placed perfectly like a tetris piece that falls where it should.

I do both. I think no one way is better than the other as they are each advantageous and detrimental. To a certain extent I plan my little plot out. What's going to be happening and all that. This is good because it allows for order. Whereas with too much improv, writing on the fly, you can sometimes create a pure scatterbrained and misaligned mess. It can get too crazy. Yet in contrast, too much plotting and planning and outlining and sticking to formulas can make the writing feel empty. Everything will be perfectly in place, but it'll sometimes feel too robotic or simulated.

So indeed. I mix the two. I don't write a formula, but I have a game plan. I don't just throw shit together and hope it sticks, but I improv enough that my muse doesn't feel chained. Some folks only use 8 crayons and color something mediocre. To the same effect though, people could use 150 colors and create a mess. Some can use a mere four colors and blow your mind. Some use 120 and weave them into one huge weeping watercolor.
Sure. I noted how Gert's playing got better when he stopped painting by the numbers and let his subconscious run with the ball. You cant think about what youre doing when its improvisation. You do the thinking later.
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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With or without gristle, stories are best stewed with well-written dialogue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myhnAZFR1po
Only if that dialog helps tell the story. Writing dialog for the sake of dialog is worthless.
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Old 07-24-2014, 12:08 PM   #8
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I think one particular area where authors improv most is in characterization. We hear it all the time. You'll be writing a character and they take on a life of their own. You no longer can dictate what they'll say exactly in dialog, you can no longer accurately predict how they'll react, and it seems like they are writing themselves. This is where improv takes off. Even as you strike the keys you're saying "no, seems more plausible to their character that they'd say this or fo that".

Yesterday I found a bit of time to go back over a story of mine and I thought about this little scene that involved two characters and their conversation. I still remember writing it. I knew they were going to talk, I knew it was a pivotal discussion, I knew what the main topic would eventually be. Just a basic idea. But I had no clue what they'd actually say. How they'd take to meeting each other, how they'd break the ice. I had no outline for how they'd eventually come to chat about the main conflict.

But I didn't need to. I just sat the two down and started typing. The conversation spilled forth, and it felt so natural and realistic. You could practically hear them as clear as if you were sitting next to them. It didn't feel stilted or forced. It didn't seem like the characters were just saying shit because I wanted them to. When they spoke, it fit their style, fit their persona. And it was fun for me as an author to morph back and forth from one body to the next.

On the flip side, another crucial element in that same story I think I botched. I was trying to deliver this kind of special effect. It involved lighting, music, and a kind of strip tease. Lots of setting and moving parts to pour together. But it didn't flow. I think I can remember why. I was trying to force it. I was trying to stress the scene too much and it showed. It's bloated with far too much repetitive description, and in turn the pacing drags. That was part of the intent, I'll admit, to have this kind of "phantom camera" slo mo effect, where it seems very dreamy and marvelous. The pacing was right (slower and methodical) but the substance there is flat. Basically I threw on the phantom camera effect and the parts I slowed down didn't look all that pretty or awe inspiring. I forced it too much.

Heh, sucks. But looking back (and even going over it here) I learned from my ups and downs in that story. Where to let it flow, where to pull the reins.
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Old 07-24-2014, 12:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SecondCircle View Post
I think one particular area where authors improv most is in characterization. We hear it all the time. You'll be writing a character and they take on a life of their own. You no longer can dictate what they'll say exactly in dialog, you can no longer accurately predict how they'll react, and it seems like they are writing themselves. This is where improv takes off. Even as you strike the keys you're saying "no, seems more plausible to their character that they'd say this or fo that".

Yesterday I found a bit of time to go back over a story of mine and I thought about this little scene that involved two characters and their conversation. I still remember writing it. I knew they were going to talk, I knew it was a pivotal discussion, I knew what the main topic would eventually be. Just a basic idea. But I had no clue what they'd actually say. How they'd take to meeting each other, how they'd break the ice. I had no outline for how they'd eventually come to chat about the main conflict.

But I didn't need to. I just sat the two down and started typing. The conversation spilled forth, and it felt so natural and realistic. You could practically hear them as clear as if you were sitting next to them. It didn't feel stilted or forced. It didn't seem like the characters were just saying shit because I wanted them to. When they spoke, it fit their style, fit their persona. And it was fun for me as an author to morph back and forth from one body to the next.

On the flip side, another crucial element in that same story I think I botched. I was trying to deliver this kind of special effect. It involved lighting, music, and a kind of strip tease. Lots of setting and moving parts to pour together. But it didn't flow. I think I can remember why. I was trying to force it. I was trying to stress the scene too much and it showed. It's bloated with far too much repetitive description, and in turn the pacing drags. That was part of the intent, I'll admit, to have this kind of "phantom camera" slo mo effect, where it seems very dreamy and marvelous. The pacing was right (slower and methodical) but the substance there is flat. Basically I threw on the phantom camera effect and the parts I slowed down didn't look all that pretty or awe inspiring. I forced it too much.

Heh, sucks. But looking back (and even going over it here) I learned from my ups and downs in that story. Where to let it flow, where to pull the reins.
With most things I let problems simmer till real solutions come along. I mean, sometimes it takes forever (the ending to my green E story took 5 years to come along, and its simple NOT gay rocket math).
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Old 07-24-2014, 12:47 PM   #10
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With most things I let problems simmer till real solutions come along. I mean, sometimes it takes forever (the ending to my green E story took 5 years to come along, and its simple NOT gay rocket math).
I have let some stories sit before posting them. Not 5 years but same idea.

That puts me in mind of a little thing I do. Lotta times I don't get a whole lotta time to sit and flesh little scenes out into whole plots. But I'll get these really cool scene ideas. I'll like them so much that I wanna sit and write em, just so I have them written down. There's a broad range of topics and scenarios that I've "jotted" down, that I keep in a folder called "Frags". And every single one is improv as you call it. Of the top of my head, there's a scene where a landlord is talking to a young hispanic family. They've rented one of his homes, but have packed their shit and are moving because of something that happened overnight. Something freakish and terrifying enough to make them move. The scene is basically the landlord talking to the son who is translating for his frantic mother. Another scene is 1st person about a vagabond in ancient times, donning rags and hiding himself from... ? He has some disease that is seen as a plague upon humanity, and the legions are scouring the cities and villages exterminating his ilk in the name of some god. That's it. The scene is just his daily routine of hiding and finding food as he wakes from the gutter. Another scene is a "Tolkein" type fight scene atop a bridge between two towering castles. A group of explorers lets loose an ancient slumbering bird like creature, which is gigantic. The scene is them stirring the beast, it breaking free, and an unlikely warrior diving from the towers onto the beast's back. He means to kill it in the air before it can reach this big coastal city.

I dunno where the fuck any of those come from, or where any of them may lead. But I have a blast writing them, and I make em up on the go. A few have been plucked from Frags and been fully realized stories. Many of them still gnaw away at the edges of my brain. Occasionally, I'll reread one or my thoughts will drift to them and the material will be so fresh that I have a lightbulb moment and the damn thing takes off.

So in a way, sometimes writing stories is just like writing music. Not lyrics, I mean writing and playing notes and riffs of a song. I'll be tinkering with the guitar, stringing together little runs of notes and putting together riffs into chorus lines and stuff. Something will sound so good that I keep it, and kinda file it away. Then I'll be doing some "improv" on the guitar where I'm just making some shit up as I play, and I'll summon one of those riffs that sounds like it fits. Same thing with writing. I'll have this great idea for a story, and lo and behold, one of my little Frag stories finds a nice home, perhaps with a little alteration and editing.

As a writer, when you get any time at all and something pops into your head, I think you should write it. There's these little dream imps that lurk about when you sleep, and they'll suck those great ideas right out of your ear if you're not careful.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by SecondCircle View Post
I have let some stories sit before posting them. Not 5 years but same idea.

That puts me in mind of a little thing I do. Lotta times I don't get a whole lotta time to sit and flesh little scenes out into whole plots. But I'll get these really cool scene ideas. I'll like them so much that I wanna sit and write em, just so I have them written down. There's a broad range of topics and scenarios that I've "jotted" down, that I keep in a folder called "Frags". And every single one is improv as you call it. Of the top of my head, there's a scene where a landlord is talking to a young hispanic family. They've rented one of his homes, but have packed their shit and are moving because of something that happened overnight. Something freakish and terrifying enough to make them move. The scene is basically the landlord talking to the son who is translating for his frantic mother. Another scene is 1st person about a vagabond in ancient times, donning rags and hiding himself from... ? He has some disease that is seen as a plague upon humanity, and the legions are scouring the cities and villages exterminating his ilk in the name of some god. That's it. The scene is just his daily routine of hiding and finding food as he wakes from the gutter. Another scene is a "Tolkein" type fight scene atop a bridge between two towering castles. A group of explorers lets loose an ancient slumbering bird like creature, which is gigantic. The scene is them stirring the beast, it breaking free, and an unlikely warrior diving from the towers onto the beast's back. He means to kill it in the air before it can reach this big coastal city.

I dunno where the fuck any of those come from, or where any of them may lead. But I have a blast writing them, and I make em up on the go. A few have been plucked from Frags and been fully realized stories. Many of them still gnaw away at the edges of my brain. Occasionally, I'll reread one or my thoughts will drift to them and the material will be so fresh that I have a lightbulb moment and the damn thing takes off.

So in a way, sometimes writing stories is just like writing music. Not lyrics, I mean writing and playing notes and riffs of a song. I'll be tinkering with the guitar, stringing together little runs of notes and putting together riffs into chorus lines and stuff. Something will sound so good that I keep it, and kinda file it away. Then I'll be doing some "improv" on the guitar where I'm just making some shit up as I play, and I'll summon one of those riffs that sounds like it fits. Same thing with writing. I'll have this great idea for a story, and lo and behold, one of my little Frag stories finds a nice home, perhaps with a little alteration and editing.

As a writer, when you get any time at all and something pops into your head, I think you should write it. There's these little dream imps that lurk about when you sleep, and they'll suck those great ideas right out of your ear if you're not careful.
I do the same except what pops in my mind are bizarre but plausible scenes. If I don't capture them theyre gone.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:47 PM   #12
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"Improv" is a pretty good thing to bring up. In my own opinion, I think you gotta be able to do it, even just a little, to be able to write. Or perform any kind of art.
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Old 07-24-2014, 02:10 PM   #13
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"Improv" is a pretty good thing to bring up. In my own opinion, I think you gotta be able to do it, even just a little, to be able to write. Or perform any kind of art.
Most of Lincoln's great oratory were improvisations, as he was responding to Stephen Douglas. Wonderful stuff. Moments ago I listened to an organist speak of improvisation and how receptive audiences are to sound fresh from the soul. Maybe all dialogue should be improvised. Polish the rest but let the speech spill out as is.
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