the nature of the writing beast

The writing of fiction requires a kind of benevolent Machiavellian thinking. The end (a finish, publishable short story or novel) justifies whatever method you use to get there. Of course this excludes stealing or plagarizing or poisoning somebody so you can steal their fantastic manuscript (I’m thinking of the movie DOA, Dennis Quaid as the one who was poisoned).

However. If you have to plot scene by scene, if you don’t plot at all, if you stand on your head because that’s the only way the next sentence will come to you — if it works for you, it works.

This is all by way of saying that my methods may strike you as completely unsuitable or silly. And for you that might be true. They work for me.


8 Replies to “the nature of the writing beast”

  1. Elizabeth — um, I don’t know. They asked me if I wanted one and I said, lemme think about it and then it just got away from me.

    Does it bother you, the lack of photo?

  2. When will the sixth Wilderness novel be done? Hahaha! Kidding, kidding. My REAL comment is that, oddly enough, your webpage is formatted correctly (right column actually on the right rather than starting way down at the end of the text) only when I click to make a comment/response. Weird.

  3. I live in Canada and have been looking for TTT but haven’t found it yet. My Mom and I are looking forward to reading it.

  4. So if you start with Emma at birth and plod on through toddlerhood, school, her brother’s death, you are probably going to lose a lot of potential readers. You may write gorgeous prose and keep some readers that way, but mostly people want a good story.

    Rosina, something clicked here – I think this (chronology aspect) is maybe why I didn’t really think Memoirs of a Geisha was all that wonderful a book. (Though I can’t find anyone else who feels the same). It seemed to me a story with so much promise and potential but when I got to the end of the book I thought to myself “Well, where was the story?”. I was disappointed. Some very interesting things happened and yet I was bored. I only got interested in the last chapter and then I found out all the things I wanted to know were not to be revealed. Maybe it was a set-up to a sequel but I won’t be buying it.

  5. Trying to guess why you’d start with Emma’s spelling test…. A critical point: The inheritance questions. How to bring to the surface? Have son ask something. When? While Emma is helping him study for his spelling test. How to get there? Use the symmetry of Emma’s own test as a starting point.

    Is this a reasonable way of plotting through the story?

  6. Alison — I really disliked Memoirs of a Geisha, so you’re not alone. My objections to it had more to do with perspective and point of view. But I do know what you mean about the structure.

    Asdfg: Yes, symmetry is what makes it work. I’m going to talk about that tomorrow.

  7. (Yes I know, I should be working…)

    just checked in and your return comment reminded me that I wan’t comfortable with the POV either. Something just didn’t ring true – I thought maybe it had to do with the author being male and the character being female but I know other authors do that quite well.
    Perhaps I need to learn more about the Japanese psyche for it to make sense to me.

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