Monthly Archives: June 2011
I want to know what you feel about the use of a “Straw man” plot in fiction. If you’re unsure of what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. I’m not sure if this technique has an official term in literary circles…but “Straw man” is what I’m calling it. The term comes from the informal logical fallacy of the same name. Wikipedia describes the “Straw man” fallacy as:
“a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.”
How am I applying this to fiction? A “Straw man” plot is a fake plot used in the exposition to mislead the reader. When the real plot comes into play, the fake plot is completely discarded as irrelevant. A “Straw man” plot usually ends with a “WHAT THE!” moment, blowing the reader’s mind and perception of what’s happening, and skews the story in a totally unexpected direction. The “Straw man” plot is never mentioned again. This is not the same as having sub-plots or plot-twists. Sub-plots continue on, and usually have some significance to the overall story. A plot-twist is an unexpected change to the current plot. A “Straw man” plot is fake, insignificant, and tossed aside in favor of more important things.
I haven’t been able to think of any books or movies that have pulled this off. Please let me know if you can think of any, because I’d like some examples. But one of the best examples I can think of comes from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess video game for Wii. At the beginning of this game, Link is asked to deliver a special sword to Hyrule Castle. He goes through a few rudimentary training exercises, and a short adventure in preparation of this journey. And just before he leaves…a black portal opens up in the sky, everything is thrust into a dark twilight-dimension, and Link turns into a wolf. WHAT THE! Forget delivering the stupid sword to the castle. The world now has bigger problems. This “Straw man” plot is never mentioned again. In fact, the only connection to it is that Link later goes back to his home village and steals that sword so he’ll have something to beat up monsters with.
So what do you think of using the “Straw man” plot? Does it work for you or not? Can you think of a movie or book examples that have succeeded using it? Can you think of movie or book examples that have bombed using it? And would you consider using this in one of your own books? What’s your opinion?
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it once more. One of the things most people don’t realize, is that small press publication doesn’t come with any marketing. The publisher expects the author to do all the marketing themselves. That’s where I’m at, right now…trying to figure out how to do this myself.
We had a great initial push for launch day, with a combined total of about 80 print and Kindle copies. But the launch momentum is dying away, and it’s time to shift strategies.
That’s where you come in. Long-term marketing cannot be done alone. I need a team to help. You won’t be asked to do much…just things like setup events at libraries and schools, contact your local bookstores and Wal-marts about carrying the books. You know, that kind of thing.
If you believe in Winter and you want to help me spread the word, please join my marketing team. If you haven’t already joined me on facebook, do so now…www.facebook.com/thewordcrafter. Leave me a message on the wall or something, and I’ll make sure you’re added to the FB group where I’ll be organizing this. If we’re already connected, you can comment below and I’ll find you.
This past week has seen a whole bunch of stuff come out for Winter. There’s been a seven day blog tour, two interviews, a character guest blog, and three giveaways. In case you missed them, here’s a summary of everything. Please go support each one and show them how awesome my fans are!
* My FIRST interview as a pubished author with Jennifer AlLee! Leave a comment to enter to win a free eBook copy in the format of your choice! The winner will be chosen Monday, June 20th.
* My second interview at the Barn Door Book Loft! Leave a comment to enter to win a free copy of the book. (The details are a little vague. There’s no deadline and it doesn’t specifiy the format of the book. But enter anyway!)
* Character guest blog written by Winter herself over at Ralene Burke’s blog! You don’t want to miss these feisty words! Leave a comment to enter to win a free copy of the book. You must enter by Sunday, and a winner will be chosen Monday, June 20th.
Winter is published. The first draft of the sequel is cooling off, awaiting my return later this summer for overhaul. Meanwhile, a completely unrelated novel has been brewing for several months.
I think it’s ready.
You see…I’m the writer equivalent of a crock pot. A germ of an idea will get in my head and will simmer for ages before it’s even ready for prewriting. Then a little prewriting will yield more mental simmering. Eventually, the timer goes off and it’s ready to begin.
So tonight, I do believe I will write those first words and begin a new novel. Oh, I’m not telling anyone about this one. In fact, I’m keeping it pretty tight-lipped until it’s published. Only a few people know anything about it and my publisher is one of them. Suffice it to say, if I pull off what I’ve pitched to her, I think she’ll jump on it.
Anyway…those first words are pretty special. They’re often the most difficult and most scary. But once the ice is broken…
Well, you know.