Last week I asked the advice of my loyal blog readers on how best to rename those pesky Motivation-Reaction Units. Thank you for all the suggestions!
A few of you expressed concern that my forthcoming book, WRITING FICTION FOR DUMMIES, might be too theoretical, or too focused on this or that, or too something else. All I can say is that the few comments I’ve made so far have dealt with small parts of only two of the 22 chapters. The book will cover everything that I’ve learned and taught over the last 21 years of writing, all in one handy reference. And there are some new ideas in it.
It sounds like the terminology “Objective Beats” and “Subjective Beats” is none too popular. A number of you prefer “Cause” and “Effect”. Others like “Stimulus” and “Response”. Still others prefer “Action” and “Reaction.” The issue I have with all of these is the same problem that I see with “Motivation” and “Reaction.”
That problem is that sometimes the POV character provides the Cause/Stimulus/Action/Motivation/whatever you call it. In those cases, typically a non-POV character provides the Effect/Response/Reaction/whatever.
However, just as often the situation is reversed and some other character is doing the Cause/Stimulus/Action/Motivation and the POV character is providing the Effect/Response/Reaction.
For example, consider these two beats, in which Harry is the POV character.
Harry threw a dung-bomb at Malfoy’s face, hoping he’d swallow it.
Malfoy leaped back, tripped over his own feet, and fell in a bucket of flobberworms.
In the above example, Harry provides the Cause/Stimulus/Action/Motivation and Malfoy provides the Effect/Response/Reaction.
Now consider the following two beats, in which Harry is still the POV character:
Malfoy threw a dung-bomb at Harry’s face. “Eat this!”
Harry leaped back, tripped over his own feet, and fell in a bucket of flobberworms. He desperately hoped Cho wasn’t watching.
In the above example, Malfoy provides the Cause/Stimulus/Action/Motivation and Harry provides the Effect/Response/Reaction.
A number of you like the terms “Internal Beat” (for the POV character) and “External Beat” for all other characters. And I can see your point. I haven’t written the chapter on all this yet (still finishing up the chapter on Theme), but at the moment I’m leaning to Internal and External. Thanks for all your discussion on these points! One thing is clear — it’s impossible to take everybody’s advice.
On another note, I’ve been working furiously hard on a software project, “Snowflake Pro,” which will automate all the repetitive parts of working through the Snowflake method. My current plan is to have this ready for sale by the end of the month. My daughter and I are working on four example Snowflakes that will be included with “Snowflake Pro” when it goes on sale.
“Snowflake Pro” will walk you through all the steps of analyzing your novel. At the end, the program automatically generates a skeleton of your book proposal! It fills in all parts of the proposal that you do as part of the Snowflake method, and it leaves slots for you to fill in all the other parts.
I showed an early version of “Snowflake Pro” to one of my writing friends awhile back, and the first thing she said was, “Wow, this is fun!”
More details soon . . .