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, February 18, 2011

Thinking about the Hobby Formerly Known as the Former GN. Glanced through it, feeling very dissatisfied. It's got a lot of purty writin'. To which I say: So what? I'll bet my dog could write purty, if I trained it to type.

I thought about why I want to write this ms--obviously I do, because I keep sticking with it even though it's just purty and nothing more. The reason I want to write it is because I'm annoyed and angry--but not super angry, just sort of smolderingly angry.

Then I thought about where the ms picks up and gets interesting--the places where it gets more than just "purty." It perks up and gets a spurt of energy in the places where my snarky smoldering annoyance slips into the third person narrative.

This story is set 3,000 years ago. The points I want to make are from today's perspective. I've tried to make those points staying in a 3,000 year-old POV, but every time I go through the usual process of getting the reader to come to their own conclusions by experiencing a sequence of events along with the MC, it clearly warps the ms. There's too big a gap between today's world and the world of the book.

If I look at what I have, I've got a ms where I've consistently taken my own snarky conclusions out and tried to make the reader "get" the same conclusions on their own. It's clear that this process is not working.

I think a big part of this is getting the right third person voice and understanding how present I need to be in this ms.

A big part is also figuring out how to transition from piece to piece. I like the floating-around thing, and it's fun--but it's not satisfying me as far as actually getting something said. If I wasn't annoyed or smolderingly angry, I could probably float around the story forever and be content. But you can't float around a ms and be angry; the two just don't mix. Anger has purpose and direction.


I've got at least three different types of story going on here, and I don't know how to transition between them. They take place at different times and on different continents. In some the same people have different names. I don't see that I can just label the transitions by place and time, because it's so confusing that labels would be meaningless. On top of which sometimes the people in the sections are the same and sometimes they're not, and sometimes they're the same but the reader might not know it yet.

I pulled out my Scott McCloud, as an aid to thinking about transitions and spaces between. He lists five choices about visual storytelling: choice of moment, choice of frame, choice of image, choice of word, choice of flow. They also apply to textual storytelling, IMO.

Choice of moment: which moments to include and which to leave out.
Choice of frame: distance and angle.
Choice of image: Characters, objects, environment within the frame (scene).
Choice of word: the actual writing part.
Choice of flow: guiding readers from scene to scene.

More things to think about:

Choice of frame affects reading flow.
Choice of flow includes clearing the readers' path of obstacles.

Also, the types of transitions are: moment to moment, action to action, subject to subject, scene to scene, aspect to aspect, and the non-sequitur. The ones I'm having trouble with are scene-to-scene, taking the reader across space and time. McCloud points out that deductive reasoning is often required in reading scene-to-scene transitions.

Hmm. I need to look at what I have (which is about 250 pages worth of stuff) and see what idea storyline A could end on, that would echo or pick up on an idea in the first scene of the next section, which may be storyline C, but it may be B, I dunno yet. I don't know if storyline B and C need to go one at a time, or intercut.

I also need to get storyline B, the main storyline, carved to a bare minimum.

I also need to write out storyline C, because I only have some of it.

It also occurs to me that you can remove all obstacles by repeating a sentence or paragraph that opened or ended a scene earlier in the book. If you repeat it again later, the exact same way, that puts the reader right back in the same scene, at the same place where s/he first heard it. That would be a strong and effective way to transition the three storylines back together near the end: repeat the exact same words from storyline A--carry the reader straight back into A, only now knowing everybody's baggage and being fully invested in the stakes.