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Joined: 13 Jan 2005
Posts: 113
Location: Napa CA
Filler  Reply with quote  

Here's a question for all you authors out there. How do you come up with enough of what I call "filler" to fill a novel? I suppose a good example of what I'm talking about would be the section in TSA where it talks about how everyone hates Californians and is grateful for every earthquake and el nino...etc. This doesn't really have anything to do with the plot, but it moves the novel along and keeps the reader's attention.

So anyway, my question is how does one come up with these mini concepts? Do you just write them all separatly and then place them in the novel where you see fit? I only ask because I always have trouble with writing filler that works. I think i just go off on some random tangent and never return.

Post Thu Jan 20, 2005 9:50 pm   View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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Uh, "filler", would be what I call theme-driven concepts, which I usually come up with when I thinking about a subject that's pretty broad, like, for instance, "Why does everyone hate California?" or, "What's different about Christmas in California, as opposed to say, Wisconsin." When, suddenly, you find yourself writing a Christmas book, you see opportunities to plug them in.

My advice would be to not come up with filler to put in your stories, period. I can get away with a lot of shit that you guys, as new writers, cannot. Some of the pieces in Stupidest Angel are much more about the generic holiday season, than they are about the story at hand, and consequently, they stand out. Also, much of TSA depends on a setting and characters which I have already created, and therefore I was high-stepping to not say the same thing over and over again. For instance, in the previous books that featured Mavis, the bartender, there were extended pieces describing her gradually being replaced by spare parts, but it would have been overkill to go there again. Something like Gabe doing his experiments on the rats might be filler in another context, because it really doesn't have anything to do with the story, and it's only in there because I thought it would be funny. The bottom line, even in my own stuff, is that if it appears to be "filler", it probably shouldn't be there. Comedy gives you a lot of leeway, because as long as what you writing is funny, you'll be forgiven a little sloppiness.

Comedy tends to be a spontaneous artform, a reaction, if you will, to stimuli. The craft and timing may come later, but the initial reaction is usually what makes something funny. That being said, when something strikes me as funny, I tend to write it down. Later, if I can plug it into a book, I'll use it in context, if I can't, I'll save it up and just use it in a presentation when I'm touring, or I'll just hold on until it's too stale to use. (I have great fax machine material that will never be used. ) This is one of the reasons that I recommend a writer keeping a journal, and writing down all those ideas, because you will forget them later when you need them.

Post Fri Jan 21, 2005 3:49 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 908
Location: Athens Ohio
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I have a habit (which may or may not be a bad one) of using WAAAY too many parentheticals in my writing. Cuz whenever I think of something "filler"ish that may or may not be relevant, I tend to include it, but just put it in a parenthetical or a footnote. That way, if you don't like it, you can just skip over it.
Totus Floreo Totus Ardeo

Post Fri Jan 21, 2005 7:00 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address MSN Messenger
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