Apr 10, 2010

Bad Practices: The Card-Stacker

Apr 10, 2010
Time for a new type of post: Bad Practices deals with all the strange flaws and habits we've found in ourselves... and mostly overcome. Everyone has their own specific problems: Maybe you have trouble starting to write - forever planning. Maybe you have trouble writing too soon - never planning. Whatever problems you face it's important to notice these habits and deal with them, and in aid of that we'll be highlighting some of our own Bad Practices.

To start with, here's a deceptive trap we fell into early in our careers:

The Card-Stacker

The Card-Stacker is a writer who builds his narrative very tightly, very delicately, and with every piece arranged in carefully balanced coordination. That doesn't sound so bad, right? It didn't sound bad to us either.

What we discovered is that, come time to make the inevitable rewrites, changing anything would result in the whole House-of-Cards falling down. The smallest addition or subtraction would result in an avalanche of changes, a chain-reaction of consequences. It was so precarious it had lost all flexibility.

These overworked ideas were like lines of Christmas tree lights: If one bulb was removed, all the other bulbs would die.

Each beat relied so heavily on the one that preceded it, that should one be changed - ten more needed drastic alteration. Scenes defied length adjustment, the smallest of characters were entangled in plot, and all optional details had somehow become inextricable.

We had to learn to under-plan some things, to not be afraid to have non-vital elements and that simplicity meant stability. While in some ways it was good writing, like most things in life it was a matter of finding balance.


  1. I'm pretty much the opposite, My ideas are so absurdly vague because I like being able to add anything I want just for the sake of pleasing my aesthetic tastes.

  2. yoo mutt thought this mite interest u... its a graphic novel thing happening at wheelers centre


  3. Yeah, definitely - thanks for the info! I always struggle finding what's on and when. Good show!

  4. I missed out, I had stupid work.
    Hey I've been using mac journal on my itouch, thanks for recommending.
    I get it all out of my head into an organized file.

  5. Great!

    Just be careful it doesn't replace anything while syncing.


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