18 January, 2015

Another Lesson from Stephen King

One issue I had with my book was that readers were enjoying it in a highbrow, literary sort of way. They enjoyed delving into the ambiguities and wondering what was going on behind the surface. That's all well and good, so long as readers are interested, but it isn't really what I'd intended. The especially egregious ambiguity was as to whether my main character has telekinetic abilities, or if it's all in his imagination. For a couple of days, I couldn't understand how anyone got that idea. Then I read Carrie by Stephen King, a master of my weakness, plotting.

The first paragraph is about how much of a time bomb a telekinetic person can be. The second paragraph goes, "Of course what none of them knew was that Carrie White was telekinetic."

I laughed my ass off. My main character had been unsure of his gifts at the start of my book, and that meant my readers were unsure, too. Some readers were having trouble figuring it out.

But it doesn't mean characters can't be unsure. It means the author must find a way to make the reader sure. The deeper point is, the premise, and the hint of the dramatic, should be on the table right away. I don't want to write for highbrow people. I want to write for everyone. I'd love highbrow readers to enjoy my work, but I don't see the point of writing work designed to make self-congratulating, Oxford-cloth twits think I'm clever. The point of art is to impact upon people, as such, the amount of people it reaches is vital. Art happens every time someone listens to music, or reads a book, or plays a poignant video game. Art isn't simply in the artist. It's a gift from the artist, and a gift is just a colourful box until it's unwrapped.

Now, as it's necessary to post on Pinterest, I'll honour him with a picture.

As always, thanks dude.

04 January, 2015

Life Coaching for Writers

You guessed it from the title. I saw a life coach. Sort of. You see, my martial arts teacher got a qualification in life coaching and wanted to help me out, so I got a few sessions for free.

One interesting thing we discussed: Imagine I'm a drone working in a company, and my boss wants to make money out of me. What would I, the boss, say to the guy sitting in the cubicle?

First, I'd obviously give him his own office, a booze cabinet and a snack bar. All those perks. Obviously.

But second, I'd send him on a training course. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I need to work on my plotting. I'm not the first author who had trouble learning how to plot. The list includes Roald Dahl, William Shakespeare, and various other names you might remember. Basically, it doesn't mean I'll always suck at it. And please, if you're thinking of commenting on that, remember that the earliest published story of a person's is not the first thing they wrote.

I'm sending myself on a six week training course. I've asked my old mentor, Scott Bradfield, for a list of some books he thinks are particularly awesomely plotted. I'm also looking at some great books that have some things in common with my own, e.g. Carrie and Matilda.

Six weeks, six books, and six book reviews. I'll post any major revelations here. It forces me to be accountable to myself--again being a boss. I might wind up posting more than once per week, but that'll remain the minimum.

Thanks for reading! Wish me luck!

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