Monday, October 12, 2009

Short vacation

Sorry 'bout that.  Got distracted.  Didn't realize how many days had slipped by since I last pontificated.

Let's discuss workshops.  I have one to do in a few weeks.  I have been fine-tuning my little speech, adding a book or two to my recommended books list.  Noticed that a lot of them are from Oxford University Press, too.  Very odd.  Am now trying to come up with a handout that summarizes what I said in a clear and clever way.  And good luck with that.

After I get over my first panic attack about standing up in front of people who are expecting me to say something intelligent and helpful(poor little dreamers that they are)  I actually don't mind doing a workshop.  I especially like to answer questions as I think I am much better at that than at the pontificating part.   Those having a brief nap at the back of the room might not agree but I don't wake them up to ask them.  However, I do know that I relax when I am wrapped up in question time.  I have to wonder if there are other writers who prefer that, too.  Probably.  So be kind - at the next workshop you go to, ask questions. 

My point here, which I will eventually get to, is that I find it difficult to say what exactly I do to pull my story together or to make it something people will spend money on.  I don't have any set scheduale or plan when I write nor can I name even half of the grammar rules I blindly follow.  How does one explain something one just does?  Writing isn't like riding a bike where you can tell people exact movements to make.  If I had a special trick I would share it, but I don't think I do.  I will not tell you just how long it took me to figure out if I actually had a true Black Moment in my story but several books had already been and gone on the stands.

For instance - I have been asked how I come up with my characters.  I have no idea most of the time.  They are there in my head, nudging at me to give them a story.   Slowly, the little voice whispering in my mind takes shape as a character.  I might scribble out a few notes to fine tune that character - likes, dislikes, etc. - but he or she is already in my head.  Sometimes one is better formed than another so I matchmake for that hero or that heroine, trying to come up with a perfect mate.   I am, I believe, a writer driven by the characters more than the plot, conflict,or anything else.  If I hit a glitch - I look to the characters as I am sure there must be something I haven't done to fully flesh them out, that I have left something missing in them.  Most of the time that is exactly what is wrong.

I do do a workshop on characters.  If one ever listens closely to it, you'll hear mostly what not to do.  I know what I don't like and what I don't want my characters to do but I am not 100% sure how to tell any writer how to develop a character.  Telling someone to 'think' about it, as I do, just doesn't cut it for everyone and so it shouldn't.  Everyone has their comfort zone, and my somewhat confused stumbling to a story finale would drive them nuts.  They would never be able to get a story done.  Much easier to tell what I think a good character should and should not have even if I don't use all those things myself.  Certainly not in every character I write about. I even made up a character chart, composed of all the things I thought were good to know about your character, things that would help flesh him or her out and make writing the tale easier.  Since it is comprised of all I like I sometimes even look at it if I hit a glitch in my story.  Don't really fill it out, just look it over to see if there's something there I didn't yet know about my heroine and hero and that's why they are sitting around, twiddling their thumbs and not doing what I want them to.  That usually works but, again, some people would be made nervous by such a lack of organization and actual hands-on planning.

So, right now I am trying to organize what I need for a workshop on Words - The Magic Of Words - to be precise.  I know with every fiber of my being that the words one uses are important, can make or break the mood, the suspense, the romance.  Yet - how do you make it clear to people when it is just something you
know?   I must be making myself pretty clear, however, for the members of the RI writer's group I belong to seemed to understand me.  Wish I did.

And therein lies the crux of my insecurity.   I am more than willing to talk about what I do and share anything I have learned, answer questions and pontificate.  I just worry sometimes that I might not make clear things that I don't have the best explanations for, things I just know  and do.   Or that I sound as confused about the whole creative process as I sometimes feel.    Here's hoping I don't.   So, stay tuned - soon I might talk about how I don't plot, either.

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