Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Gems and Lumps of Coal

JP is working on my story now. She is all ahead full, and I'm grateful. I am myself rolling on with the third part of my trilogy. No more writer's block for me. I mean I have the occasional tie ups and ins in regards to story and pacing, but that goes with the territory. I don't know how other writers do it, but the pacing of a story is important. It is the scene cuts and how you cut them that matter the most in a story. It can't hop around, it can't cut in the wrong place, but then again, to build some suspense you can't have it continue on and on without pausing it at places. But when you do, where to do go from there? To what character and to what predicament? Do you go back in time or do you go forward, or stay in the same time continuum?

Do you hop about in the same time just appearing at differing locations? Do you slip into some private matter or some public spectacle? What do you do? Well as an author, its all your call. Where and when you cut to is your business, but do so wisely. And this sometimes is the cause of a block. A writer pauses to question if this next cut through his novel's reality is the correct cut, an accurate cut that is answering or questioning the readers senses. It is what it is. That's what makes the difference between a good writer and a mediocre one.

Am I a good writer? Hell if I know. I haven't really sold a novel although I have published a short story that was gripping enough. I didn't luck onto the story, I had it fully formed in my head and I brought it to life much like a woman would a baby. I jumped about from scene to scene confidently, cutting my way through the narrative until I got to the end. I liked it, and it sold right out of the gate to a Canadian publisher. This was years ago though, but every time I think of it, I take it apart to examine its inner workings. I tinker with its gears and pulleys to see what made it stand out as a story and then I use it as a form of template for the stories that I am presently writing.

Does this work? I'm not so certain. The fact is that I worry that it might give an appearance of a cookie cutter story when compared to others of mine. Also, stories differ in logic, content and pacing. Since this is the case when making logic leaps in your story scenes you can't really copy success. You can only build an instinct for scene juggling.

You are actually the fly on the wall, the eye of God, as you peer in upon the innerworkings of your creations, but what do you do? Do you chronicle EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION? Of course not. Just like you don't follow your characters into the bathroom to take a dump might be the same reason why you don't listen in on a conversation between two characters in a room. Because it's either boring or irrelevant. You want to appear in either an exciting scene or informative one and as few of them as possible. You want your story to move fast, stay lean, muscular, anything less will never be a page turner. Long winded explanations, tiresome dialogue, listless action, these are murder to a story. You jump from scene to scene, appearing and disappearing, giving your reader insights, or excitement.

But where to jump and when is up to you. Some writers are under the impression that you have to cover everything. The character's drinking habits, drug habits, social habits until tears fall from the eyes. Every single conversation, every single movement, every single event as if fearful of missing something. But that makes a good writer. Missing that which can be missed, and gleaning the few glittering gems from human interaction. The more lumps of coal you collect, the more tiresome your story will be, and the more tiresome you make your story, the less of a chance of getting published, or being well read. Whereas the more gems you search out and sparingly collect in your scenes, the better and tighter your stories, and the more of a chance you will have to catch an agent's or editor's eye, get published, or be well read.

I'm stuck now, wondering where to appear next in my narrative. I'll cook up a new scene, I'll appear somewhere enticing, somewhere informative, somewhere that my reader wants to be, and move the story along. I'm patient. It'll come when it comes.

The same for you...it's your call.


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