Sunday, February 3, 2013

Up the Creek without a Conflict

Beautiful, but ill-behaved

It was raining the day he came to Laurel Glen–a warm, early summer rain that you only felt when it dripped from your sodden hair into your eyes and when your clothes made soppy swishes as you walked. He levered his gaunt frame out of a vintage Mustang, and gimped into the ancient store, lamp wicks racked alongside memory sticks, cautious of the rain-slicked stone steps that jeopardized his stability. He stood out among the locals of the mountain hamlet–but not for the cane and limp, not for the scarred face and arms, but for the stark emptiness of his gaze. Even when he met the unabashed stare of a native, the human connection never warmed his steely blue eyes. He remained, in this crowd full of easy familiarity, abjectly alone.

So, there it is, the opening paragraph of my novel.  You know, the novel that's been haunting me for a over a year, stuck in the middle with nowhere to go.

Until this week.

Until one tweet.

Yes, I am on Twitter (@LiveaSavoryLife) and I'm just as surprised as you are.  I'm following about 40 feeds, mostly about organic gardening and writing.  I've been surprised how helpful both have been--especially the writing.

Through twitter feeds, I'm finally plugging into the writer's community in a way I have not before.  I know there are discussion boards, and listservs, and all sorts of other communication conduits, but, so far, the tweets have been more useful.  I think it's because they seem more efficient.  Let's face it:  writers write and its usually wordy.  Tweets are not.  They are succinct, so I can quickly pass by what does not interest me.

One author whose tweets are really helpful is Vicki M. Taylor (@vmtwriter).  Vicki does tweet about her own writing, but she also shares great links about the craft of writing and promotion techniques for independent authors.

One tweet shared this week was by a writer who discovered, far later than he'd hoped, that conflict is the element that transforms an essay into a story.

The inside of my head lit up like a fourth of July fireworks display.  Conflict?????  (Or lack thereof.)  That's the reason I'm adrift.

I remember reading somewhere that an author cannot fall in love with her characters.  An author must be willing to do anything to a character to move the story along.  If it sounds a little bit creepy, it probably is.  But, it's probably true.

And my problem is, I love my characters.  Too much.  They're beautiful, and noble, and honorable, and always make the right choices.  They're boring.  What happens to these people?  What could happen?

So, you see my problem.

Chaos is more interesting than order . . .
<CUE sinister music>

I must let them make the mistakes real people would make, and reap the whirlwind.

I must send misfortune their way.

I must become ruthless.

<CUE evil laugh>

It sounds like fun.

I'm off to give it a try, at least until the temperature creeps above 40.  In the meantime, check out Vicki's blog, and Andy Rane's; they're both worth a look.

How are you living your Savory life?


No comments:

Post a Comment

So, what do you think? How are you living your savory life? Tell us about it!