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Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's the Ride

One of my crit partners and I were discussing that moment when a story clicks for you.

My last story manifested itself very fast. It was finished and polished within eight weeks. I wouldn't think that possible, but it happened just like that.

Because it wrote itself so quickly, my CP asked if that particular story clicked for me. LOL! Not really. Or at least, not right away. I had nothing when I started. Not even an outline. I had those five little lines and that's what I built my world upon.

It helped that I have a passion for post apocalyptic worlds. I love figuring out how things will extrapolate long into the future. It helped too that I liked my two main characters immensely. They were flawed human beings, and for me it made them more approachable.

I do think you have to love your story because if you truly love it, your enthusiasm shows through in the telling.

But here is where we separate the grizzled writer from the neophyte. Love alone isn't enough. Writers have a tendency to treat their stories like children and they love their children despite their shortcomings. Uh-uh. Allow me to slap your hand.

As intimate and as cherished as our writing is to us, we have to keep a dispassionate distance in order to see it for what it is. You might weep with wrenching emotion over your mc's black moment, but if you weren't able to convey that empathy to your reader, your baby's not ready to walk yet.

My CP thought that my novel seemed very clear in my head and I drove straight through with singular focus. She felt that in itself is very satisfying to a reader.

The more I thought about it, the more I think she's right. A reader wants to feel confident in the story teller. I've noticed when I reviewed less skilled writers they employed a lot of hand waving with languid description and introspection in order to hide a weak plot.

When we read, we're trusting that the author will take us on an interesting ride. If he fails, we come away from the experience wanting, or worse, angry that he wasted our time. As a writer, I have an obligation to transport the reader on an extraordinary journey and not the subway ride of our ordinary existence.

It's the ride, baby! Make it visceral and make it personal.


Anonymous said...

Your CP must be brilliant. :-)


Maria Zannini said...

Now, you know I don't surround myself with non-brilliant crit partners. :grin: