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Intro Music by Fretts!

Our intro and our outro music is Your Government Loves You and Wants You to be Happy, by Fretts! If you love it as much as we do, you can find more beautiful music at fretts.bandcamp.com!

Writers Blocking: Not What You Think It Is.

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What We’re Drinking:

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Cucumber Crush by the 10 Barrel Brewing Company. It’s a sour beer flavored with cucumber, and I love it. It is the perfect summer beer, with the refreshing cucumber and the bright sourness. I highly recommend it.

What We’re Saying:

Today was James’s push ups day! James offered to do a certain number of push ups per share of the podcast, and today is the day he’s going to do those. We did not record all of the push ups because the only thing that’s more boring than watching people do push ups is listening to people do push ups. We did record 76-100 for purposes of posterity.

I’m participating in JuNoWriMo this year, and I’ve been working on the first book in a new sci-fi series and the writing has been going wonderfully. For everyone out there, if NaNoWriMo is too hard because it happens during the holidays, JuNoWriMo is a fantastic alternative run by fun amazing people. I work best under externally imposed deadlines, so things like NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo work particularly well for me.

James is working on editing his novella and it sounds like he recently got himself past a sticky part. Editing can be difficult, but perseverance will bring rewards.

James and I are here to let you know that Barely Salvageable Press is seeking submissions for the Fall 2016 edition of Hot Mess, our pulp sci-fi anthology. Find more information here!

We’re both struggling with finals and projects and papers for the end of the quarter, too.

I streamed live video of James’s push ups, which was available on our group on Facebook (and still is, unless James has deleted it.)

Today we also want to talk about scene blocking and action scenes.

Poor or inconsistent blocking will pull a reader out of your scene. It is one of the big crimes; the reader will stop reading and try to retrace the steps in order to square the position of the characters in the book with the image they’ve built in their heads.

What we say when we talking about blocking is knowing where the characters are in relation to one another and where they are in relation to the things around them in the environment that they’re in. It’s making sure that the environment remains consistent, and that the objects that your characters are interacting with are somehow placed in the environment so that it doesn’t seem that they just magically appear.

You don’t necessarily need to spell it out for your reader; in fact doing so can interrupt the narrative, but there are ways that you can signal blocking using the point-of-view character’s senses. You can have them look, listen, and feel to establish the details of a new environment without breaking the narrative.

James talks about how he establishes blocking when outlining a scene. He determines where the characters are, what props and objects are they going to be interacting with, and where they’ll be located and what they need to accomplish during that scene.

I actually have a hard time with dropping characters, and that’s a huge blocking issue. Once the characters have played their role in the scene, if they’re not the point-of-view character, sometimes I just forget about them.

Sometimes when you’re having a hard time, stepping back and establishing blocking, regardless of the method, can help clear up what your objective is in writing the scene.

One method that I use to establish consistent blocking is to draw out a map of what’s going to happen in the scene. It doesn’t have to be art; I usually just use little circles for people and squares or blobs for objects, and you can use arrows to indicate movement.

It’s likely that this kind of thing is where the big wonderful maps in the fronts of fantasy novels come from. When I was a kid trying to write fantasy, I would draw maps of places.

 

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