Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How I write

Some of the feedback I receive about my writing is overwhelming. I print out the compliments and keep them in a "good feelings" file for those moments of doubt when I want to throw the computer across the room and cry. Many of these compliments aren't for The Mark of Abel, but short emails I've written. My voice was developed writing highly personal essays. I'm trying to transfer that level of emotion to my fiction.

I wrote much of the original story stream of consciousness during National Novel Writing Month 2007. I'm basically what you call a pantser, though I prefer that I write into the mist. I rarely wear pants. Skirtser sounds even weirder and dresser makes me sound like furniture. Now I'm trying to make sense of the various changes the story has gone through.

When I concentrate on the plot, scenes tend to fall flat. When I ask myself "what do I want to show about this character" the scenes often sing. That's how I wrote the beginning. What was important for the reader to know? Then I designed a scene around that.

The little stories I tell about my life on the various email loops are written with this approach. I want to convey share something about myself or convey an emotions, so I tell a story that illustrates this.

I fell into a trap. Conflict conflict conflict. Over and over again conflict's importance is stressed. I internalized this so much, when I had to write the final scene, where conflict doesn't rule, I couldn't. Conflict isn't my voice. Emotional connection is. When I focused on conflict, I lost that, I lost the characters and I lost myself.

So I'm rediscovering this. What do I want to show the reader about my character in each scene? Goal-Motivation-Conflict are important, but "Craft is always secondary to the truth of emotional connection" Kontanti Stanislavsky. I will do my best to remember that.

Or to put it another way, one of the agents at Upstart Crowe put it this way "I promise to approach your manuscript with an open mind, if you promise to approach your writing with an open heart."

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