The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I know a lot of trade writers look down on work-for-hire, but I owe it an immeasurable debt, if only for one thing it taught me about myself: My thinking is very often overcomplicated at first. I learned that from my readers' theater scripts editor, who has a gift for paring ideas down so that they're perfectly suited to format. I'd come up with some idea, and he'd tweak it by saying, "Yeah, but that's too complicated. Why don't you just have so-and-so happen, big climax, show the characters learning their lesson, the end." I remember when we first started working together I was like, "That's so simple it'll be boring--but hey, he's the boss." Then every time, as soon as I got it on the paper, I saw that it worked. It was humbling to realize that I was just some artsy-fartsy novelist who didn't know squat about constructing a story.

Writing novels isn't the same as writing RT scripts, because there are so many threads that have to be juggled and woven that it's necessarily complex and--much of the time--overwhelming to the point where you don't really quite understand what you're doing. But again and again I find that I need to simplify my thinking about certain threads, or about the way I weave them together, or whether they need to be woven at all, or whether they all even need to be there. There's no one-size-fits-all rule about it, but it's been very helpful to remember that I do have this tendency to overcomplicate. Sometimes it takes care of itself as I work, but other times I have to force myself to consider whether I'm preventing my ms from having clarity and purpose.

This is on my mind today because I have to think about that w-f-h sample. I can't tell at this moment if my head's in the right place, or if I'm just being overly complicated again. It's unfortunate that I often have to figure this out by talking about it, because basically I pin friends/colleagues down while I whine and bore them.

Blog Archive