01 February, 2012

Cardinal Points Of Argument

Writers' Wednesday!!!

As a helpful writing exercise, pick three main topics of contention.  Best way to start would be to write a page on each, detailing your arguments for how you see the issues.

Now flip it.

Write a convincing counterpoint to the three pages you just wrote.  If you go back and read them with a clear cut winner, strengthen and edit the weaker argument until it becomes stronger.  Then work on the former winner until it makes a definitive comeback.

If you do this properly, you should have two very well thought out positions on issues that may very well be eternally debated and it should get harder to say which one is the stronger.  Now write a third position until it practically invalidates the first two and then challenge it with a fourth.

Not an easy exercise, but a helpful one.

You could add a couple more arguments to each issue, but we'll call four good enough.  Two is not good enough.  You may not be able to adequately write four separate opinions on each issue and some research will be required.  That's a good thing.

Until you can see at least four sides to every issue and write each one as if it were your own personal conviction, your characters will suffer.  Not drag themselves across lava beds suffer.  More like why does everyone else seem to have it all together suffer.

Characters represent cross sections of society.  They have to be convinced and convincing of their world view or they will never seem real to the reader/audience.  In order for them to be convincing, you have to be convincing as the writer.

Evil for the sake of being evil isn't nearly as interesting as evil that believes wholeheartedly that it's doing the right thing.  Of course there are good people that do bad things and vice versa.  I assure you that nothing will build up sympathy for your main character like having him/her be called, shown, and/or proven wrong and then have to struggle to make his/her case.

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