Saturday, September 25, 2010

The difference between ideas and plot

I've been away for a while - mostly because I found this awesome site called AW (Absolute Writer). Well worth the visit if you have time.

But back on topic :)

I've been writing stories since I was 12 - one story in particular, which is finally reaching completion. Now, I know this story, inside and out. I would be irritated if I didn't after all the work I put into it.

Now I'm having to face up to the fact that I might actually finish this story. This means coming up with something new to write about. Which, if you knew how many ideas I come up with a day, wouldn't seem all that difficult.

But there is a huge difference between ideas and plot. I'd just forgotten how much. Take Varrick for example. I started off with an idea, one that I liked. I created a plot, using three act structure as a basis. I wrote the first twenty pages. They weren't bad - I liked the characters, ect.

But what they did was stale. Incredibly so. Because what was happening to them (and while active protags make do their way and some of their problems, obstacles are often not of their creating) was not boring, but had been done. So many times. I'd read books like this more than once. And while plot points can be archetypal, this wasn't archetypal - it was crap.

I think the main problem is that before hand, when I sat down and plotted my other books (namely THE MANDA) - I had already written the entire thing out twice with no plan. So lots of random and wonderful things had to be tied together, and that created something new. I already had the originality, I just had to figure a way of getting it under control.

But I can't write 6 drafts every time I want to write a book. I just won't have the time - university will eat it up like nothing on earth.

So I have to figure out a way to plot that allows for random ideas. And what I've been doing so far (following three act structure) obviously isn't working. It needs to be part of it, but not all of it.

If that's all I use from scratch, all I end up with is staleness.
*sigh* back to the drawing board.

Friday, September 03, 2010

What words are for...

The thing that struck me the most when I was overseas was how few words you actually needed to impart meaning. Especially when people were used to your limited vocabulary and rather turned about grammar.
If you can tie a verb, noun and adjective together, and know about 600 words, you can speak and listen. Not well. You won't be able to understand a conversation that doesn't include you. There is a lot of gesturing and use of words like : "that thing" "the opposite to this" "the thing that is similar to this but rounder" and so on.
But you can communicate. Not just orders, or direction, but feeling, explanation and ideas. You rely on people knowing you well enough, and you rely on you knowing the culture of the place well enough for others to accurately fill in the gaps. But you can communicate.
So now we go onto writing.
Sometimes I will read something and I will wish for more. More in the way of words, of metaphor, of description that picks me up and drags me into not only the thoughts of the characters, but into their world and the culture of their world.
Sometimes I will read something and wish the author would just get on with it . Theme doesn't work well when its shoved in your face, let's just say that.
There are the same problems in my writing. And regardless of whether the book is written in an irritating way or not, if I like the characters I will put up with almost anything. Plot holes, bad writing, too much writing - whatever. You give me characters I love and I am there.
However, I do feel sorry for those who write for nothing else then communication of plot and character. Everything should be written for a reason. Absolutely. But sometimes the reasons are expression of a character through landscape, or for adding atmosphere, or for metaphor.
I don't believe you should go : Ohh, this would be a nice place for a metaphoric image. It creates a superficial sense. If you've read a lot, and have a mind that has something to say, the metaphor will weave itself in regardless.
But atmosphere and the creation of character through landscape can be done. And some people just don't bother. I think it's sad. (clarifier here - I doubt my work could be called brilliant. But I do try to achieve these things. I'd rather try and fail then not try at all.)
So yes, just something to think about.