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.

Friday, October 23, 2009

(The answer to yesterday's question turned out to be: sometimes in scene, sometimes not. At its root, the answer seemed to lie in whether you get bored reading. If you get bored reading in scene, then it's gone on too long and can be paraphrased or cut. If you get bored with the paraphrasing of out-of-scene, then you either cut it shorter or dig in and have a scene so the reader can get some firm ground underfoot.)

Anyway. Two threads of thought today, writing-wise.

First, I only had about an hour to work, so I glanced at (really glanced at--like, just read the chapter titles) the ms from the beginning and tried to get a sense of flow leading into the middle part. I wanted to see if I could do any quick shaping that might carry me a little farther into that particular wasteland. What I ended up with was some freewriting where I articulated some of the things I know about the middle and the characters, and would like to bring out in the ms. However, I didn't figure out how to bring them out. I just articulated them, that's all. It will have to do for now. I hope the back of my mind works on the problem, because I don't see how to do it unless I get all author-intrusive.

Second, interesting discussion with writer friend re. that great bane, the passive MC. The MC who is just fine, thanks, but then crap happens and his/her only goal is dealing with the crap. WF reminded me of Thomas McCormack's The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist. I dug out my copy and tried to find the pertinent part, which basically is: the MC needs to make a plan and state it for the reader. This plan provides some juice, some pep (my words, not TM's) for the narrative. In TM's example, the MC already has a goal, but it's not enough because apparently she's not doing anything about it.

Now that I think about it, I guess I'm mixing this up with an MC who has a negative goal. Like, "I don't want X to happen," or "I don't want things to change." A passive MC probably has a positive goal, but just isn't doing anything about it. That's different, isn't it?

Like if a kid's mom is taking him to the doctor to get a shot. The kid doesn't want to go--that's a negative goal. Passivity has nothing to do with the situation. Crap is befalling him, and he's got to deal with it. But the example in TM's book is of a girl who wants to leave a hick town and, er, do whatever people do when they leave hick towns.* She has a goal--something she wants to achieve.

So maybe one question is: can a MC's stated plan help boost a story where the MC has a negative goal? I don't know.

*Usually they seem to sit around congratulating themselves on not being hicks anymore, since they've changed location. But I digress.

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