Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like


New titles for Kindle this spring!

We have new poetry up at The Disappointed Housewife this morning. Discover the new superhero, Inkman, and have faith that everything’s going to be okay.

And be sure to tune in tomorrow when we drop a unique contribution in the Faux Forms & Genre category, a text conversation between “Hansen and Gretchen.” Trust me, you’ll read it at least five times and laugh harder with each reading.

Today, though, I’m more than troubled to have seen this new “tool” touted on Twitter (pardon my alliteration). It’s called “Fictionary,” and it means to eliminate originality in writing, from what I make of it.

See, what it does is, it analyzes your manuscript (which you have pre-formatted with markers to show where scenes end), and then it generates charts to show you how far off the ideal plot pattern your work is. Your first plot point comes too late (readers hate that!), and your climax is five scenes too early. You think people have time for a long denouement? They’re already cracking open the next book, baby. Get with it!

This is like a machine that makes hula hoops. The only thing that distinguishes one from another is the color (book cover).

I ask you: How did formula become a replacement for art?

Listen, I know a lot of fiction depends on recognizable patterns and conventions, but when you start coming up with charts and graphs that push you closer and closer to some preordained mean, you’re eliminating what I think of as the most important element in writing: creativity. Looks like you fill out little boxes for each scene with answers to questions like “What’s the purpose of this scene?” – “What type of scene is this?” – “How does it open?” – “How does it close?”

This is fundamental stuff. If you need software to remind you to think about these things, you’re not really a novelist. You’re a monkey with a typewriter.

Oh, and by the way, this service will cost you $20/month.

I also have problems with the writing sample they use to demonstrate their site. Très clunky. Plus they spell the word fingertips “finger tips.”

One of the site’s creators has this to say: “How was I supposed to remember the torrent of [writing] advice and apply it to each scene? A spreadsheet, that’s how!”

If that doesn’t take the soul out of fiction writing, I don’t know what does.

4 comments on “Hoopla

  1. Carrie Rubin
    March 5, 2018

    There are so many writing “tools” out there now. It seems to me that for the most part, we’re better off devoting the time to actually writing our books than inputting information into software programs and analyzing our every move. I’m all for planning (I’m a big fan of outlining, myself), but sometimes we have to let our intuition and imagination guide us. Maybe most of the time?…

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 5, 2018

      It does seem easy to get bogged down with all the “tools” that are supposed to make writing easier.

      Whoever said writing is easy!

  2. Audrey Driscoll
    March 5, 2018

    That the site’s creator was hung up over following every bit of writing advice sort of tells you something.
    I’m betting a Fictionary-processed opus won’t find it’s way into the Housewife’s domain.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 5, 2018

      Ha … though we’ve seen some things from random phrase generators!

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2018 by in Writing and tagged , , .
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