Thursday, June 17, 2010
That's What Friends Are For!
You’re probably thinking I couldn’t possibly have enough to say to justify TWO blog posts in one week.
But this one’s easy. Sinfully easy. Delectably easy. Today we’re doing a “play along”, hence the title “That’s What Friends Are For”.
Plot deepening is a big problem in a lot of books. Plots that skim the surface, gratuitous conflict, staged scenes that seem set to manufacture that conflict. What’s missing?
Depth in water is measurable. Depth in reading is subjective. Dagnabbit, EVERY TIME WE GET SUBJECTIVE, PEOPLE GET UPSET BECAUSE IT’S NOT MEASURABLE BY KITCHEN-AID SPOONS AND CUPS!!! But since we’ve got our big kid panties ON, and no one’s got ‘em in a bunch as yet, let’s play subjective. Let’s deepen our manuscript ideas. We’ve looked at first lines, talked first pages, talked subjectivity. Now let’s jump in the water, get our feet wet.
I started a new book in NYC last weekend. On the Island, actually. And I love the concept of the book, the idea of people scarred through no fault of their own, trying to mend those broken pieces and forge a new life. In today’s world this kind of trauma has become basic, and that makes it usable. BUT…
I needed a little more plausibility as to what was tweaking my characters besides the trauma. As a child interventionist, I went through a wonderful training that shows how to identify anxiety in a kid and talk it down, point by point. Going through this helps me develop characters, I just go the opposite way: What is it about this character, their situation, their past, their personality, that makes them react like THIS to evoke the feeling I want in the book. Kind of reverse psychology. In reverse. Don’t ask. I have no idea what I just said. I’d need a psychoanalyst to explain it and none are available. (This always makes me glad that none of my children decided psychology was a great way to make money. Just what every parent needs, a kid to psychoanalyze them regularly. Oh my stars…)
Did anyone notice a gratuitous picture in this post???? Just askin'. I needed a fix.
So here’s what you do: Post an outline of your characters’ problems, your plot. Not an 18 page synopsis, but give us something to play with. And then anyone who wants to play can toss in nuggets about what might help. These nuggets get my brain churning and give me food for thought to reach that deeper place. I did this with the Seekers when I got home on Sunday (I love going away, and I love coming home.)
Between Mary, Audra and Pam, they helped me ‘see’ a background character’s depth and by using that in the story, I strengthen the heroine’s behavior and the reasons for her conflict. That way every step she takes SHOULD make sense, not sound rushed or gratuitous, or planted, or read like a set-up. To me a strong book evokes (THERE'S THAT MAGIC WORD AGAIN... EVOKE. EVOCATIVE. WORD PICTURES THAT PAINT EMOTION IN A READER'S BRAIN, IMPLANT IT ON THEIR HEART... LOVE THAT WORD!!!) feeling and follows an organic path to wind naturally. Think mountain rivulets flowing to streams, then to creeks, and then melding into a stately river… That’s how I “see” a novel, those discordant bits of water trailing and wandering, not knowing there’s a plan to the path, the river below….
There is a plan, but the river's origins don't 'see' the plan. Still, they find their destiny, just like they should.
So, brave ones: Post a story idea. It can be one you’re working on, one you’ve done, one you’re just throwing around in your head. W’ll play. Let’s see if our ideas stimulate your thought process. I know it works for me.
So do Mallo-Cups but that’s a whole other blog.
Today I’m giving away a Ruthy-Critique to some very scared person. Yes, quake in your boots. You should. I’ve killed before. Metaphorically speaking.
I will do a 15-20 page critique (and I’ll do it within two weeks, poor KC thought I lost hers but rumors to that effect were untrue. Mostly) for one delightful person who dares comment. Leave your e-mail and if you don’t want to be in the drawing, let me know that. I’m not offended. Really, truly. I know that not everyone is comfy-cozy about sharing their work.
Did someone hear a CHICKEN??????? ;)
Another gratuitous photo, binky-sharing "baby buddy-breathing" Part 2... ;)
I’m also sending out a copy of Waiting Out the Storm, to some lucky person. And this is seriously lucky because not only did this book garner 4 ½ STARS, it’s just one of those ‘fix the problems of the family’ books that makes you want to be nicer. Sweeter. Kinder.
I write these things to inspire myself. It’s an elongated process as you can imagine, LOL!
Jump in. I brought food. I work better with food. I’m a grazer, I don’t do well with meals, so I’m going to pick on food all day, hence: Donuts and Danish, toasted almonds (brain food and belly fat reducer) cream cheese and bagels for Walt, sponge candy for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of eating it in Western New York, M&M’s, sandwich fixings for later (yes, they’re on an ice bed in a cooler cart, Mary, for heaven’s sake, I wasn’t born yesterday!!!!) lemon cake (my mother’s recipe) and coffee. Lots of coffee. Diet soda. Iced tea. And iced coffee. That’s coffee with ice. Simple concept, I know. I’m a simple girl.
See you inside…