HI, all! I'm back from the decadence of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, greenbean casserole, pumpkin pie, etc .... Wheew! Has to be my fave cuisine of all time ... good ol southern Thanksgiving. And, we're officially all decorated at my house. My kids had so much fun yesterday getting the Christmas decor out.I just love the warm glow of colored twinkle lights in my living room.
Anyway, I've been reading the book Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott. Long overdue, I've had it on my shelf for weeks but hadn't had the chance to delve in. Have you read it? It's awesome. If you don't know, it's a writing guide and I highly recommend it. In one of her chapters on plot, she brings up a really good point that got me thinking. I wondered if any of my writer buds were guilty of this too...
In the third maniscript I ever wrote, I tried my hand at an adult political thriller--something I love to read, but never envisioned actually writing. This was back before I really learned how to polish my craft--I was just a fledgling with a dream of writing a novel--and not truly understanding what it takes to craft the story.
In Bird by Bird, LaMott talks of those writers who have a good, strong plot to their story, but they force their characters to follow the plot. This leaves the characters hollow and it makes the writer the God of their story--controlling everything and not allowing the characters to develop and make discoveries and revelations of their own. LaMott is adamant on focusing on the characters first, then the plot and everything else will come naturally.
Wow, I really thought on that for awhile. I was totally guilty of that with the thriller I tried writing. I had a great plot and lots of suspense and secrets that I unveiled sparingly along the way, but I was forcing my characters to do what I wanted. I was the puppeteer, pushing them along and pulling their strings to move in the direction I demanded. I can see it now, but back then, I had no idea. I was seduced, consumed, and enchanted by my plot. How terribly egocentric of me!
Well, hindsight is always 20/20, or so they say ... and I know now I can go back and rewrite the heck out of that story and I may just have something. I plan to, once my WIP is finished, and this time I will let my characters have more control. I've learned a lot about character development since then, not by reading writing guides, but by writing new stories and letting my characters interact--giving them room to come alive.
By the way, I'm literally two chapters aways from finishing my WIP (the NaNo project formerly known as Sapphire.) I did an Amazon search yesterday and learned the title of Sapphire is already taken. So I've got some new ideas in the works. No big deal. This one has been a really tough one to name.
I'm looking forward to revisions all next month and hopefully queries in January. I'm hoping to make February my NaNoQuerMo month (idea stolen from Tracy at Forever Endeavor) an anyone who thinks they'd like to join me in my query endeavor just let me know and we can make it a joint effort!
Also, sidenote, there's still time to enter my GIVEAWAY. In order to qualify you must leave a comment in that post. Old followers get an automatic double entry into the pot.
So tell me, my friends, are you or were you ever a puppeteer? Come on, fess up ... we all have our writing faux pas along our path. If not a puppeteer, what mistakes are you guilty of and how have you learned from them?