Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sacrificing Plot And Character Motivation For Fun

STATUS: It's sunny and our windows are open. And it was quiet because of the holiday. I got tons accomplished. I officially declare this an awesome day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOVE SONG by Adele
(The Cure were one of my fav bands from my youth and I kind of like her rendition.)

I like the heading of the entry as you can read it two different ways.

1) Just writing for fun and not worrying about the story/motivation,
2) The writer got lost in the fun of the world and forgot that a story needs plot and clear character motivation.

As a writer, sometimes it's great to just say the heck with plot and character and simply have fun with your story and your world. It can unblock that critical voice and let you just write.

I'm all for that!

However, that's why you go through the critique and revision process. You don't want the above and then send me a full manuscript with out that second critical step.

In the last couple of weeks, I've read two full manuscripts that had great beginnings, solid writing, creative and interesting world building, the whole enchilada that starts an agent getting exciting.

Then I hit page 100 or 140. Suddenly the stories stop making sense. I puzzle over the character motivations and why they are making the choices they do. Then I start reading scenes that are fun but don't actually move the story forward in any identifiable way. Then I can't figure out how this scene fits with all the building elements of the first 100 pages.

If I'm this far into the novel and I'm asking the above questions, I'm passing on it. And no, I won't write up an editorial letter because it would be far too complicated and time consuming to really outline these thoughts in a way that will actually help the writer.

By the way, when I'm writing up an editorial letter for one of my clients, on average it takes me 2.5 hours to complete. We often follow it up with a Skype call to just to talk it through and bounce ideas of one another. It's a significant time investment.