Friday, May 8, 2015

Being "crafty" in my writing.

As I mentioned, as I approached the ending of The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Murders, I was worried I didn't have the chops to pull it off.

When I finally came to it, I thought the ending worked out really well.

I came up with a "crafty" way of getting it done.  Unlike the rest of the book, where I had one POV character per chapter, I went into the heads of five different characters.  The emotional and dramatic weight was too heavy for one character, the requirement for an arc was too steep, whereas jumping between POV's got the job done, and in fact probably heightened the drama and emotion.  Like a singer who can't quite reach the high note, but finds a bunch of well sung lower notes to get the same idea across.

Pretty proud of myself there.

I've learned there are crafty ways of making books work.  A major example of this was with Led to the Slaughter.  About 50% of the way in, I had the Donner Party stuck in the Sierra Nevada.   I knew the rest of the book was about them being cold and hungry, hungry and cold.  I couldn't figure out a narrative way to not make that boring.

When I settled on using a "Journal" narrative, it addressed the problem and looking back on it, I think it made the book work.  I could start each "dated" journal entry fresh.  But at the time, I spent several days stuck, trying to figure it out (which is a lot for me when I'm in the throes of a book).

The solution was an intellectual, structural one that worked emotionally.  Cool.

What seems to be happening lately in my books is that I have a general narrative that works, but is lacking a certain something.  Then, partway through the book, I realize that adding a new character and writing new POV chapters without changing the general narrative addresses most of the problems.

It's gotten so that I'm sort of on the lookout for that.  Somewhere along the line -- usually around halfway through the book, the new character comes to me and creates new possibilities.

A great example was the addition of Barbara in Tuskers.  To me, she's the strongest character in the book.  She sort of took over, the way Barbara would.  But when I wrote the original plot, she wasn't in there.  In fact, I could take her out and I could still have a book.  But she adds so much that it would be crazy to do so.

This is such a combination of the conscious and the subconscious, that I choose to call it "craft."  It comes from experience and having confidence in what I'm doing. Finding out things that work through trial and error.  Maybe if I was smarter, I'd get it right the first time.

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