Thursday, March 29, 2012
In the perpetual wrestle of writing, I'm always learning something new. Even when I don't invite or welcome the lessons.
Such is the case with my current book projects. In spite of my countless resolutions to dedicate a set number of hours each day to writing, things (i.e. my mattress, breakfast, the newspaper, the damned Internet, etc etc.) somehow often nudge their way into what was supposed to be unfettered literary magic-making.
So I'm learning to value slivers when chunks aren't used as intended. Fifteen minutes is...fifteen minutes. I'm certainly not going to crank out 3,000 words in that span of time, but 300 is within the realm of possibility.
Sometimes it will happen as I sit in the car waiting for the seven year-old to finish soccer practice.
Sometimes it will happen between updating my blogs ;-(
Sometimes slivers are all we've got.
One page a day instead of ten is sometimes the best you can do, bro.
One page per day x 365 days doth a novel make.
Chunks or slivers? Both, please.
You do what you can do.
Posted by Scott Livingston at 6:00 AM
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Reading a new novel is a lot like going on a first date. You're somewhat open to the possibilities, but haven't made any commitments other than the couple of hours required for dinner and a movie. And as the saying goes, you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. So also for the start of a novel, especially one written by an author new to you.
This analogy came to me recently as I began reading a new novel that would require a significant commitment (849 pages!) of time.
Within the first five pages (probably within the first two, actually) I not only cared about the main character but also about each of the other secondary characters the author had introduced.
The writer's secret?
From the main character down to the least significant person in the plot, every single one was introduced in pain, either physical, emotional, or both. I found myself going back and re-reading the first chapter, just to confirm that this was so. Amazing.
I then started thinking about other books I've quickly inhabited over the years. In almost every instance that I could recall, the writer introduced their main characters in the midst of some type of heartbreak.
As I look at my own work in progress, I see great value in amplifying this aspect in each of my characters' arcs. Finding a way to put them in crisis creates more dramatic energy and moves the story forward more effectively than any other approach I can think of.
Loving my characters enough to hurt them takes guts. Whether I'm breaking bones, hearts, or both, I think it wise to show no mercy.
Posted by Scott Livingston at 5:25 AM