Thursday, November 30, 2006
Cloudy and warm
Western medicine has failed me yet again, so I’m trying alternatives. And I actually feel a little better this morning.
Delighted that I finished the first draft of Assumption of Right. I’m pretty sure it’s not a “Devon Ellington” book, though – I think it’ll go out under one of the two new pseudonyms that launch next year.
Several of the characters in this book: Phineas Regan, Bonnie Chencko, Amanda – are interesting enough to wander off into their own books. Diana might even get a story of her own. Simon and Morag need some time together without writerly interference, but the others still have stories to tell.
When I start the revisions for Assumption, I think I’m going to do all the Morag chapters in a block, then all the Simon chapters, instead of doing them in the alternating chronology. I think that will keep their individual voices stronger.
Joe Konrath began an interesting conversation on his blog about whether you “tone down” your writing to reach a broader audience, or if you reach a broader audience by being more controversial. Reading some of his responses to the comments, my interpretation (and I could be mistaken, which is why I’m being specific that it’s MY interpretation of his comments) is that he doesn’t hold much truck with “being true to the story” – which, to me, is the ultimate answer.
I believe that writers should write what they want/need to write about. If the writer is true to the integrity of the story, it will shape how it best needs to be told. Granted, that shaping may happen through quite a bit of revisions and poking by an editor. But if you remain true, as Elizabeth George indicates in Write Away, to how the book feels in your body as you work, it will dictate its own tone/shape/controversy/graphic content.
And when a good writer is true to the STORY, that writer reaches the broadest audience possible for that particular story. There are plenty of writers who I recognize are technically good writers, but I do not enjoy their work, and therefore do not read them. They’re still good; they have every right to write whatever they want; I’m glad they make a living; there are plenty of people who DO respond positively to their work, and good for them. I don’t, and I don’t have to. There are enough different storytellers to please everyone, and they don’t all have to appeal to the same type.
At the same time, when I read a book and I can feel that the writer has manipulated me because the writer is “writing to market”, I feel used and also stop reading that person’s work. One can argue that all writing is manipulative, that writers choose certain details to reveal or hold back to evoke a particular response. However, I want to be a participant on that journey, a companion, not feel I’m being pushed that way for the SOLE REASON that the writer wants to make a buck. I have no problem with writers making lots of money – I think that’s a positive. But I want to be seduced, not forced, into the writer’s world.
There are definitely some writers, who sell a lot of books and make a lot of people happy – good for them -- who, in my opinion, write the same book over and over, using “global replace” for character names and place locations. Those books don’t interest me.
I’d much rather see, from a writer, what Virginia Woolf attempted – to thoroughly reinvent the wheel with each book.
I think, realistically, most writers need to balance the two – once they’re established, write “sure things”, but also stretch and experiment. Writers shouldn’t stop writing what they want because some marketing person is incapable of the creativity to sell it. Look at all the ads bombarding us all the time – a truly creative marketing person is able to initiate a lively campaign to sell ANYTHING. For crying out loud, they sell cans of air.
I also think the rapport a writer creates with the readers will set the tone for whether or not the readers will go with the writer on experimental journeys and remain loyal even when a book doesn’t work. Because a writer should have the right for something not to work once in awhile.
Since publishers have forced writers to carry, in my opinion, an unfair share of the entire business at this point, writers need to turn that into a positive through direct contact with readers, bookstore folk, libraries, et al, and build the type of personal interactive relationship and trust so that readers will go with the writer on various journeys, not just the safe ones.
November GDR Evaluation:
Assumption of Right – both Nano goal and first draft complete
Started “The Merry’s Dalliance”
Worked on Tokens and Affections
Kept up daily with my Nano adoptees
Prepared for the holidays
Came up with the 2007 GDRs
Plum essay – which actually will be complete today, so technically it should get into the Completion category, but it’s not complete by the time I posted this.
Work on Periwinkle or Middle Marie – which was optional anyway.
I can write the entire first draft of a novel in a month.
The Situation: The Sequel
What I learned:
Yes, I can do a complete draft of a novel in a month, but little else gets done. Why I should think this is news is beyond me, but there it is.
Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts. Interesting structurally; raised some interesting questions.
Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich. Very good.
Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich. Very good.
Full Scoop by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes. Cute.
Full Bloom by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes. Cute.
Manhunt by Janet Evanovich. Cute.
This Must Be the Place by Jimmie Charters as told to Morrill Cody (unfinished). Very good.
Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky. Excellent! Outstanding! Funny! Why aren’t you reading this book right now?!!!
Off to finish the Plum essay. And tonight, I have an event with PEN.