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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No writing of my own. Looks like I'll be able to dig in next week, though.

Interesting post by a fellow writer re. the TV series Downton Abbey:

I saw bits and pieces of this series, enough to get interested but not enough to find out what happened to some of the story threads that I caught in passing. I was appalled and aghast when I asked friends later how those story threads had played out--and found that they didn't play out. At all. Every situation I'd been wondering about had been dropped. Without even a conversation amongst the characters about the problems that had been raised.

It was a big wake-up call as a writer to see how awful it is when somebody just tootles around a story thinking up cool stuff then not following through on any of it. A good reminder, too, to keep track of story/character threads and make sure each one is given its due and builds properly. Also to think about how staying on top of individual threads can help me understand and construct the ending of the overall story.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

No time to work on my own stuff. However, reality check re. dystopian ms went swimmingly. The first fifty pages are working well enough to stir wider interest, which is good news.

I might be able to work on the ms in a week or two. When I do, the main job of the moment is figuring out how to keep a grip on the fast pacing I'm determined to have, while also getting in the worldbuilding and backstory, while also getting in allllll the character stuff that I like best and that, to me, is the heart of the story.

As always, the problem is how to integrate an actual plot with my usual non-method of stirring scenes around and together until something clicks. I hesitate to hope that I may finally be inching into my own way of integrating plot and character-driven story, so I'm not letting myself hope. I am, however, allowing myself to open up to the possibility that one day I may finally inch into my own way of integrating plot and character.

Right now I'm leaning toward the following plan, in no particular order (of course):

  • Finish writing out everything that I know happens plotwise, in scenes.
  • Go ahead and write out the missing chunks of backstory.
  • Write out certain scenes (in the book and not in the book) from the bad guy's POV.
  • Write out some scenes from one of the secondary character's POV.*

Then I'll need to look at what will keep the ms moving at the fast, hook-y pace the first fifty pages have right now. It occurs to me that, once I get everything written out, if I keep one foot firmly planted in the plot stuff (if I have a general framework to start from, an order in which the exciting** stuff happens) then maybe I can hang everything else on it.

If I have all the backstory written out, maybe I can divvy a lot of it up and insert it at certain points. Maybe thinking of it in terms of fitting it around plot events and of reeling it out bit by bit will enable me to reframe some of the backstory as questions to insert in the reader's mind. That would enable it to be used as hooks to carry the story at times when the plot isn't at high heat.

There is one big piece of backstory I need to figure out, for sure. However, it hasn't even begun to jell in the back of my mind yet. What I really want to do next--and will do, because it's calling to me loudest right now--is to write out some of the bad guy's POV. I think he's a key to the shape of the final third of the story, and definitely to the ending. The other key to the ending is the secondary character the book is named for. But he's not as rotten as the bad guy, and I already understand more about how he feels re. the book's events, so I'm not as drawn to him at the moment.

So, maybe next week, or the week after, I can dig back in. Fingers crossed. For now, back to other work.

*I see that most of these items are probably outside the scope of the book. That's the kind of thing I have to notice and keep track of, if I want to learn to integrate plot with my usual process: I will probably always need to write way outside the boundaries of the on-the-page story. If I try to write strictly from scene to scene, I lose my grip on the heart of the story--or never get that grip in the first place. Economy of thought has never paid off for me. Immersion has.

**to other people. To me, what happens is arbitrary. What's exciting to me is what the "stuff" does to the characters, how it makes them feel or how it provokes them to react. The "stuff" itself is an amorphous mass of goo from which I can choose, and then shape, reshape, or toss back into the pot.