Sunday, April 25, 2010

You in a book.

Before writing, I´d notice little things like funny conversations on the bus or odd things on the street. Sometimes I´d note them , but most of the time they would just slip from my mind. Lately that´s changed and I feel a renewed curiousity towards everything. Writing is a great way to improve your skills of observation of the world, but also a vessel in which to observe yourself.

Currently a character of mine is reflecting on a moment spent repairing a car with his father. Like a flash of light, the images of my own childhood came back. Trying to work these into the story without being too real is an interesting challenge. Autobiographies, as a genre of book, have never really interested me. In the past, I have found them to be too dry and heavily scripted. The person usually comes off as a lighter shade of themself. However, I like the idea of introducing autobiographical elements to work.

Where do you fit in your work? Should your work be somewhat autobiographical or does there need to be distance between the writer and their work?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The character without a purpose

This is a big no no as I have read.  Although off the page, mysteries abound, none can be left in the story.  Everything has its reason and purpose.

I wanted a character to wander as we do in real life. We  all stroll, get lost and ,hopefully ,don´t end up in a ditch.  The writing gurus shake their heads in unison. ´Motive´  they chant.  You would think finding a motive for every character would be simple. There would be those characters who want to be loved or avenged etc, but what happens to those who don´t know what they want?

This is where the gurus and I differ. Our real world is filled with those who are half sure or not completely sold on the idea or situation. The question is -  how do you factor them into writing?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Battle of the How To Writes

The story is firmly moored like a boat at a pier, bobbing in the waves , as at least one of my major characters, is throwing up overboard. The other characters are firmly in their seats, ready for push off on their journey.

All that is missing now is plot structure. There is a beginning and and end, but what´s between? I´ve been reading a lot of fiction lately by writers I enjoy and I am puzzled by how to make the middle not so much of a transit lounge on the way to the end.

So I have enlisted some help from How To Write gurus. At first, I was cautious. For starters, I have never heard of any of them. Sure, they might know how to write a book, it doesn´t mean any of them have actually sold very well. Keeping in mind this was a little experiment, I cleared my mind of doubt and began to read.

´Novel Writing - Sixteen Steps to Success´by Evan Marshall is concise, blunt and well planned. Marshall offers an interesting technique that centres heavily on planning every minute action of the character´s interactions, thoughts and development - all this before allowing you to begin writing a word of your story. I liked this book so I hit the photocopier the next day to copy his template and got cracking.

But I, like a child with chocolate, was tempted too much. I fell of the wagon, so to speak, and began writing away with the story. I also went back to the library to see if any other writers advocated this approach.

´The Writer´s Little Helper´by James V. Smith Jr. was standing on the shelf. I was guided to it by a compass as it was the polar opposite of Marhsall´s book. It appears to be the Rubrix Cube of writing books with its design meaning you need to flick through various sections back and forth to make sense of it. Another difference is that it doesn´t not promote any real planning beyond a handful of key scenes. Not every thought , feeling or itch that a character has - just guts is important.

I fall somewhere between the two. I like the planning, but it also frustrates me. I want to turn my mind to cruise control and bang out the book, but I also love a well written story.

I´ve decided to take the advice of both authors on board and plot along out to sea with my characters. In my hand is a map, like the first European explorers used to navigate Australia. On one side there is a well mapped coast filled with reefs, jutting peninsulas and beaches. The other side disappears into the blankess of the page.

Here´s hoping there´s no end of the earth lurking around the next bend.