Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Forget the grumbles; this is what counts

People who write novels belly-ache. I myself whinged yesterday about making jargon look “natural” rather than “researched”.

None of us deserves sympathy. The work is voluntary. And we should always reflect on moments of pure joy when a problem goes away and opens up a whole vista of plot as a result.

Pre-flight Jana, my pilot, is alone (it’s early morning). She’s taken meteo info from a computer and is now filing an online flight-plan. The two paragraphs are tightly written and appear indigestible. I re-write several times but it’s still techno for the sake of being techno.

Woke up this morning, still the same problem. Set off for a paper and some milk, pondering and pondering. I realised I’d passed the post-box despite the must-post letter in my hand. But I had a clue.

Jana is no longer alone, someone else works the computer. Thus intractable jargon can legitimately become dialogue. Problem solved. But that person is Ginette, victim of unsympathetic behaviour by male pilots yet cultivated by Jana. Jana makes a gesture, Ginette responds. And the female-male divide which will recur, off and on, throughout the whole novel is immediately fruitful.

Adding Ginette makes aviation sense and accidentally propels the plot in the direction I want it to go. A moment of joy.

BEAUTIFUL SUSPENSION Stomach feels queasy. Holding my pants up is a belt which doesn’t help the queasiness. Time for my clip-on braces. Harsh industrial braces for which Mrs BB made me pads to reduce the abrasion. Characteristically she decorated the pads. And here they are.

NEW NOVEL Chapter two, 759 words (Work rate tripled. Reason: see above). Feb 1, 2011


marja-leena said...

Those supposedly accidental finds and solutions are what make the creative act so satisfying! And that's what happened to your braces too! Nice connection.

Hattie said...

It is wonderful to create worlds this way. Sometimes when I'm reading I pick up on where the author has introduced a character to solve a problem, just the way you have.
I love the way fiction works.

DuchessOmnium said...

Whenever I have a writing problem I walk. I don't quite understand that connection between the feet and the writing brain, but I know it is there.

Plutarch said...

Your moment of inspiration is well described. It is another instance of how you can edit and improve a text by adding rather than taking away something.

Barrett Bonden said...

All: Writing prose is different from composing music, painting a picture or creating a poem. After a burst of imagination has run out, the author may continue the story by tacking on banalities which fit the sequence but which are neither going anywhere, nor adding anything to what has gone before. And the reader will quickly recognise these self-evident non-sequiturs.

More interesting is what goes on in the author's head having reached this point and needing to continue the story. Theoretically the range of options is infinite. But in testing the possibilities the author instinctively recognises the duff ones via a curious dullness or deadness emanating from them. This isn't right, says a voice, though it would be extremely difficult to rationalise or explain this sensation. I suppose authors should just be grateful.

M-L: With writing, false starts are eliminated with the Delete key. But with the visual arts I assume false starts are marked by an increasingly high pile of paper. Does there come a time when the pile is so high it (to mix metaphors) points an accusing finger and the temptation to compromise becomes almost unbearable?

Hattie: I take your point with its implied defect; there is a limit to the number of characters one may add, ad hoc, to solve such problems. Someone who read my previous book recently mentioned the disappearance of a character I had introduced to achieve two separate lengths of dialogue with the joint central character, She had found this added character interesting whereas I hadn't and the situation remains unresolved as (I'm presuming) publishers' readers are presently assessing the MS.

DO: I have never opted for this walking technique though yesterday and today, in picking up the paper, the novel was very much on my mind and I was able to concentrate on it in just the way you describe. Logically I could take a turn round a large open area close to our house but I fear constructive thought would be at the mercy of imminent dog doo.

Plutarch: Exactly. And this is the thesis: if something can be chopped out easily then do it, if chopping it out creates problems consider instead addition.