Writing Patterns and Pirate Cinema

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

Pirate Cinema

So, I was reading Cory Doctorow’s “Pirate Cinema” (absolutely brilliant for anyone who has kept on top of the SOPA/PIPA/CISPA thing), and I realized that he’s using the Lester Dent formula! The hero has an inciting event (Internet is cut off from his home because of excessive downloading), which spurs him into action (running away from home) but he slowly builds his life back up (finding life among the homeless, starting his downloads again so he can make remix movies), and leads him into another inciting event (the cops raid his new squat). Lather, rinse, repeat.

He’s not pacing it the same (hit the protagonist with a world-changing event every 3k words), but it’s definitely the same formula. Hero has terrible event that causes him to run, he recovers just enough to decide he’s going to fight, then hit him again, repeat). Now that I look back on it, Doctorow’s been doing this for years, even when you’re talking about a boy who’s mother is a washing machine, or when the hero is one of the golems on Pleasure Island.

I don’t mean this as recrimination, but as a realization. That pattern really freakin’ works!

You’ll understand why I’m excited when I tell you what my pattern for writing is:

So there's this guy
his world sucks, and ...
Oh! I know! Something cool happens...
I guess...

My best-selling book was the one where I totally stole the storytelling pattern from Robert Heinlein. So, I’m just saying, cribbing the writing pattern from a successful writer is one of the tools we should not be without.

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