Monday, May 20, 2013
If This Is What I Want As A Reader. . . A Novel Matters Roundtable
If this is what I want as a reader: A story that introduces me to can't-look-away characters I fall in love with the moment I meet them,
How come as a writer I: Piddle around with the opening of the story, adding all kinds of backstory, moody and unnecessary details about the weather, or long narratives from a god's-eye-view that don't bring the characters close?
Here's another one. If this is what I want as a reader: Complex novels that deal with human struggle on several levels at once.
How come as I writer I: Try to make myself think that a single problem should have a single answer? It's good for a novel to have a central question (theme), but it's yawnsville if I write as if the question has only one good answer.
Alright, ladies, 'fess up with your reader/writer disconnects. I'm not alone in this, am I?
Oh boy, Bonnie, I'm right there with you, but I'm asking the question a bit differently. As a reader, I don't pick up genre fiction. Yes, I read historical fiction, although I prefer near-history, but not historical romance. I'm most interested in a good story historical or not with complexity, like you, that challenges me to look at what I thought I knew differently. I do try to write those stories but never as well as I want to.
I'm ready to start my next project. All through the marketing of my present release, I've been frustrated with having to pigeonhole the story into a genre of two categories and seven keywords, so readers can find it. What I write doesn't fit the prescribed vocabulary of marketing. I'm so tempted to chuck it all and embrace a genre. But which one? Shouldn't I write what I read, even if I don't do it as well as I want to?
So, Bonnie, I'm definitely conflicted, and I'm at a crossroads. Please send chocolate.
If this is what I want as a reader: Complex plots that are interwoven between compelling characters,
How come as a writer I: write novels with simpler plots, focusing on the problem of one major character? Answer: because complex plots are dang hard to pull off! I don't take the time to develop all, or most, of my characters to the same level. But when you think about it, each one has his or her own drama going on, his or her own catastrophe, his or her own long-fought-for success. Each character should have the potential of The Main Character, and yet I narrow the scope of my stories when it comes to the supporting cast. I know that about myself, but the problem is that I'm not good at juggling. Maybe with my new WIP I'll be more mindful of what's going on in the lives of my other characters and see how good I can become at weaving.
I'll start over, and better this time: If what I love best is a high wire act*, a lavish risk that achieves the spectacular when it succeeds (think The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak) then why do I take so few risks when I write? I'm working on becoming fearless.
Pray for me.
Okay, so I want exotic, mysterious, suspenseful, rich, multilayered characters and settings. I want people with secrets and secrets with landscape. I want the rug pulled out from underneath me at least twice and as I sit rubbing my bum, I want to tell myself I should have seen it coming. And then step on another rug without looking at it.
That's what I want. That's what I try to write. But I certainly don't do it up to my own expectations of the writings of others-- or of myself.