Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Beginning

As noted by my friend and critic Melanie, the Southern California Writer's Conference was in town this past weekend.  I spent an entire weekend having my plot examined, evaluated, and ultimately eviscerated.

And I loved every minute of it.

Well, OK, to be honest, I loved every minute that was about me.  My interest flagged slightly when we were talking about somebody else's plot.  Hey, I'm only human.

Plot is my nemesis, my white whale.  I imagined that novel writing works sort of like short story writing:  you think of a story.  It has a beginning, middle, and tragic, triumphant, or hilarious ending.  Then you write it down.  I've written many a short piece in more or less this way, and no doubt there are those who produce novels in just such a manner.

But no, not me.  I know the theme of my novel, the major symbols, the motivations and feelings of the main characters, and what happens when the shit hits the fan.  I know the voice, the tense, the point of view.  I know where to use humor and where to lay on the pathos.  What I don't know is how it ends.

So I went to the conference, having signed up for the unattractively entitled NovelCram.  NovelCram was led by author Drusilla Campbell, a petite woman with a brilliant smile and the unrelenting energy of a plutonium reactor.  Dru led the class from one end of the weekend to the other, barely taking a breath, much less a break, outlasting even her much younger students who crept out seriatim for a coffee or a pee before returning a few minutes later to be swept up again into the Drunado.

I, too, was sucked into the vortex, eventually finding myself deposited at the end of a winding path of saffron-colored brick.  Squinting, I could make out a curve here, a sharp turn there;  a surprise around one corner, a complication around the next.  And, in the distance, the vaguest outline of an emerald city.  I can't quite see beyond the walls of the city, but I'm pretty sure that if I can just get a little closer, I may discover...

The End.


  1. Awesome recap! Love the blog page.

    As counter-intuitive as it seems, I think building a story's infrastructure will ultimately free us more than it restricts us. As I'm learning, our stories require a certain level of complexity to be sufficiently told. As Dru pointed out, the writing process is a "whole-brain" enterprise, moreso than one would ever expect.

  2. That is probably the core of the issue: I simply don't have a whole brain.

  3. I'm impressed by you guys: creative writing is a skill that I lack. It's not so much the "Writing" aspect that I have trouble with but the "Creative" aspect.

    So when I read something as simple as this blog post, I'm always amazed at all the little things that enhance it that I would never have thought of.

  4. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have written anything like this when I was 16 either, kiddo. Give yourself a break. And, by the way, your ability to write a persuasive piece is unparalleled in my experience. Or, to put it another way: I'm impressed by you, too.