Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday Update

Miraculously, I have managed to get to 43,000 words since Friday, which means I am caught up. The problem is not using just any words, but good words. This is the difference between writing normally and Nanowrimo. But, I still think I'd like to do it next year. It sounds really fun!

I was talking with Michelle G. last night about plotting. She said that she has realized that she is a tight plotter, and needs to work everything out before she starts writing. I know a lot of writers work that way. I remember hearing one author say that you should not only plan what will happen in each chapter before you write it, but in each paragraph.

However, I have come to realize that I work in a completely different way. I have been gently accused of not planning enough before I start writing. (Not by you, Michelle.) The thing is, I don't get ideas in a vacuum. I have to start writing - pick a character, a place, a situation and just go with it. As the characters move around and interact with each other, the ideas for the plot take shape. It's more of an organic process. So, I end up going back to change things to make them fit, or even rewriting the whole thing from the beginning, but I just find that is the way it works for me. Both ways are good.

Personally, and it's just a preference, I've never been a fan of very tightly plotted books. I feel as if I'm being carried along on a whitewater rafting trip, without any chance of getting to know what the people in the boat are like when they're not fighting for their lives. I sometimes get to the point where I just don't care anymore and jump out (stop reading.) (Again, this doesn't apply to you, Michelle. I really enjoyed Eldala.)

It really annoys me when the author assumes that just because someone is in a life-threatening situation, I care about them. Well, I don't! Maybe they deserve to be in the predicament they're in, or maybe they're just stupid. There is one writer in particular who opens each of her books with a scene of such shocking violence that it makes my mind and emotions shut down. I've read two first chapters of her books and never want to pick one up again. She's a Christian author, to boot. Apparently, her books sell well. As I said, it's just a matter of preference.

I am aware, however, that the best plotting is invisible. Books that feel constricting, do so because the author hasn't taken the time to make the action seem natural enough. Diane Mott Davidson's culinary mysteries are an example of really good plotting that also feels really human. I am totally consumed when I pick up one of her books, which is not just rare for me, but emotionally exhausting.

A lot of books are written in that nervous-system pounding way because it's what readers want. I think it's kind of like movies. The audience gets so accustomed to the adrenaline rush of a thriller that anything less intense seems boring. For example, we are planning to go see the new James Bond film this weekend. I'm looking forward to it for the vicarious thrill, but I'm going to have to also brace myself emotionally for the non-stop violence, noise and special effects.

That's perfectly okay in its own way. I just hope there's an audience for my style of storytelling, too. I prefer books that are exciting, but also give me time to savor the characters and the setting. I have to keep in mind that, like many authors before me, I am writing something that I myself would want to read. I have to believe that I am not so unique, that there isn't a bunch of other people out there who would enjoy it as well.

At least, I hope so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You would probably have done very well writing Victorian Serials. For the most part, this is exactly how they were written! It's also why there tend to be lots of red herrings, because the author would write an installment, and then several installments later make changes and not need something included earlier in the plot. In all your free time (haha) you might want to check some out. My favs are East Lynne and The Woman in White!