Adding to canon is not the same thing as destroying canon
At San Diego Comic Con, we learned that Sonequa Martin-Green’s character, Michael Burnham, is Sarek’s adoptive daughter. The second I heard the news, all I could think was, “Let the hate begin.” And boy, did it ever.
I understand the disappointment, particularly with fan fic writers who invested a lot of time and effort into crafting stories that fit neatly into canon. Amazing how one sound bite can bulldoze right through decades of widely accepted fanon, huh?
Since it’s Valentine’s day today and love is being celebrated around our beautiful Planet and sole home, I thought I’d share a few Earthly wonders. The first is a spatter of basaltic lava ejected from Kilauea, that mighty shield of the Hawaiian Isles, our second is a cloud above Florida snapped from space, our third is a xenolith, a chunk of foreign material carried up from the world’s depths by rising magma and erupted onto the surface. The fourth is a lush Brazillian piece measuring 7 x 6 x 2 cm and consisting of a 3cm gem rubellite tourmaline sitting on a quartz crystal and my last is a hole in some lava at Nakalele Point in Hawaii. Happy St Valentines to you all.
Image credit: Lava Brad Lewis/Science Faction/Corbis Cloud NOAA Xenolith: James /BBC Scotland Crystals: Joe Budd/Rob Lavinsky/iRocks.com Nakalele: Coty Gonzalez
Our stories are often plagued with these common story problems, but if we don’t know how to fix them, we’ll never improve our writing. It’s important that you remember you don’t need to scrap your novel if you keep having the same issues over and over again. Hopefully this list will help you pinpoint what’s going on and provide ways for you to improve your novel.
Problem: Unmotivated Characters
If you’re having trouble figuring out where your story should go next, the problem could be with unmotivated characters. Characters aren’t in your novel just so you can push them around every once in a while and make them do things. They need to develop over time and keep your story going in the right direction.
Work on your character’s wants, goals, and motivations. You need to figure out what’s driving your character if you want them to do anything. Where do they want to end up? What’s standing in their way? What’s their plan? Who will help them? Think about everything your character will need to do to resolve your novel. Focus on what they want and what motivates their actions and your characters will stop being dull and lifeless.
Problem: Boring First Chapters
A boring first chapter is dangerous because you want to captivate your audience right away. You don’t want to lose readers just because of this, but sometimes it happens. You should give enough information to keep your readers interested, while also keeping them intrigued enough to figure out what happens next.
Putting emotion into your scenes from the beginning will not only help set the tone, but we’ll get an immediate understanding of your world. The best advice I can give is to construct a scene that helps us best understand your character. If they’re on the run, show us that they’re being chased. If they’re sad and lonely, construct a scene that lets us feel their isolation. You don’t necessarily need to open your book with action, but you do need to introduce the conflict. Think about what your character wants and go from there. Think of your first chapter as an introduction to an essay. You don’t go right into the points immediately, but you set us up for something good.
Problem: Plot Holes
Writers worry about forgetting to include important information in their novel that’s necessary to the plot. If you’re discovering that readers often point out plot holes in your story, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how you plan your novel.
Pre-planning or prewriting your novel often solves any plot hole problems. If you take the time to write out important scenes so you don’t forget them, your story will become stronger. However, if you’re not someone who likes to do so much planning, you can tackle plot holes during the editing phase. Take notes when you’re editing so that you can catch these plot holes and figure out where you can add necessary information. A plot hole does not always mean your novel needs loads of reworking, but it is something you need to take the time to fill in.
Problem: Poor Pacing
Poor pacing can ruin a novel, but luckily it’s something you can tackle head on before you even start writing your story. Good pacing helps add tension to your novel and helps you make sure there’s enough rising and falling action to keep your story interesting.
Planning out your novel ahead of time also helps solve pacing problems. You can create a timeline that helps you keep track and plan out when you want certain things to happen. Read up on story arcs and try to plan out your scenes accordingly. If you’re already done with your novel and you notice poor pacing, try rearranging scenes or spreading out the action.
A very common writing problem is info-dumping. This is when you tell your readers loads of information at a time without showing them anything important. Info-dumps usually occur in first chapters of novels, but they can happen anytime during the course of your story. Info- dumps can drag down your story and bore your readers.
Cut out long paragraphs where you explain what’s going on in your novel and show your readers instead. Avoid over explaining things that can be explained through action. Letting your audience figure things out instead is a much more satisfying reading experience and it lets your readers connect with your characters on a deeper level.
This speculator photo of Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC’s) were captured over NASA’s Radome at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in September 2013.
PSC’s form at an altitude of between 15,000 and 25,000 metres (49,000-82,000 ft) where temperatures of around -85ºC are reached. The clouds are comprised of ice particles around 10 µm across and it is these ice crystals which set the stage for the characteristic bright iridescent colours. The crystals diffract and interfere sunlight when it is low on the horizon; between 1 and 6 degrees.
While these clouds are undoubtedly beautiful, they are also implicated in the formation of ozone holes. Some PSC’s are more exotic in their ingredients and may contain nitric or sulphuric acid. As a result, their surfaces can then act as catalysts which convert chlorine into active free radicals. During the return of spring sunlight these radicals destroy many ozone molecules in a series of chain reactions.