For we were just the product
Of the ever spinning wheel
Round and round we go (The Strawbs, round and round.)
I read a story by a fairly well-known author the other day. The dialogue was good. The character was moderately interesting. The pacing was somewhat monotonous… but what made it a chore was that it had no clear ‘axle’… It was just a recitation of events. It had a beginning and a middle and end. The hero did something… but something essential was missing. That ‘axle’
Hmm. One of my own writing concepts. Therefore, probably mildly loony, at best. I’m going to have to explain what I mean. Read more
Just Can’t Wait To Get On The Page, Again
I’m writing to you from the distant past, to whit: yesterday morning. By the time you read this, I’ll be retrieving Wee Dave and Wee-er Dave, and heading to the transpo hub to acquire Mom Dave. That completed, we’ll head in a direction to lodge for the night at a southerly cousin’s locale. I’m looking forward to this. I’m told there’s a yurt. From there, we’ll head in easy stages eastward through various terrain to ultimately land with Mrs. Dave’s parents at their farm of a much higher elevation. (If I push this too hard, the naming conventions are going to get obnoxious.) The littles will tromp with Grammie while Gramps and I stalk some prey. Should be fun.
Welcome back, all. I’m sorry to have to do this, but I’m going to require three sample chapters and an outline from each of you by this time next week. The theme is kitchen sink space fantasy: anything that can happen, will happen somewhere.
I’m kidding. Really. That was an attempt (ED: a ham-handed attempt) at subverting your expectations as readers. I’m required to apologize for that (ED: extremely ham-handed), but I would have anyway. For similarly unwieldy subversions turned into tropes, take a glance at daytime television sometime. Or anime. Or fanfic. Shoot, even a goodly mess of scifi abounds with examples of writers attempting to put one over on the reader.
There are times I hate being a writer. One of the things it does is set me at odds with normal (or really, abnormal but not writers) human beings, and prevents the enjoyment of simple pleasures that involve story telling.
I used to think I was alone in this, but the last few Liberty cons have quite put paid to that idea, as I hear colleague after colleague say things like “I used to enjoy reading, but now I find myself analyzing it” or “I loved movies but now I can see the mechanics and the effects.
After doing the usual minuet to get An Annoyance of Grackles live on Kindle and almost-there on Createspace, I’ve taken a couple of days off to be shamelessly frivolous. I indulged in Dorothy Grant’s new book, Shattered after Midnight – there’s a review here – and watched a DVD I’ve been hoarding of the operetta Countess Maritza all the way through, sung in German with English subtitles. I was sort of familiar with the operetta — a CD of highlights is among the music I like to listen to while writing the Applied Topology series, light and frothy — but I’ve never been able to follow the plot summaries in English.
Now I know why. The thing is as close as you can get to being entirely plot-free. It was like being served something covered with whipped cream for dessert, plunging your fork into the whipped cream and diving down to reach… more whipped cream. I got the feeling that the librettists couldn’t bear to let their characters suffer; no sooner would a problem be revealed than a new deus ex machina would come onstage to fix it.
And the most annoying non-plot bit concerned Baron Kálmán Zsupán. Read more
That plot’s not going anywhere without some help.
Your hero is pondering something of world-shaking gravitas, and
You hit a wall. Or your readers hit a wall (hopefully just your alpha readers). And you cannot unlock the scene for love, money, or little green apples. What do you do?
You can skip to something later in the story and write that, after marking your file with [fill in]. You can go rotate the cat and clean the living room just to get away from the screen or notepad, but you must return to the work at some point in time. You could go to the old faithful “Just then, a shot rang out.” Or you can try doing the scene essay-style.
At the urging of my wife, whose work is familiar to readers of these pages, I’m trying something new in a couple of weeks.
Last December, I was noodling over an idea for a new military science fiction series to expand my portfolio. My Maxwell series has reached five books, and has at least as many left to run; my Laredo War trilogy is overdue for completion of the third and final book (health issues got in the way); and I have a Western series (currently at two novels, with the third due this year) and a stand-alone fantasy novel as well, with a fantasy trilogy on the table as a more distant project. I felt the need to add another string to my bow – hence the noodling.
Dorothy challenged me to try something different.