The creative crucible. Writers create narratives built around plot and character from the intangible in their minds. You need a particular type of brain to do this. I came across an article on research in the brains of professional dancers. Turns out dancers brains are genetically different from footballers, who would have thought?
So creative people are different. For a glimpse of how different take a look at this article ‘The Essential Psychopathology of Creativity. The author says:
‘in order to be truly exceptional at something creative in nature, whatever domain it may be, you need to have those extreme traits that get you labeled by the DSM as meeting the criteria for some kind of a personality disorder. However (and this is the catch), in order to have those extreme, intense traits and not suffer from a disorder, you also need to have some sort of regulatory mechanism that helps to control those traits.’
So we need to be obsessive but also in control.
Here is an article by David Brin, who is both a scientist and a writer. He says:
‘I believe writing was the first truly verifiable and effective form of magic. Think of how it must have impressed people in ancient times! To look at marks, pressed into fired clay, and know that they convey the words of scribes and kings long dead—it must have seemed fantastic. Knowledge, wisdom and art could finally accumulate, and death was cheated one part of its sting.’
And he makes this rather wry observation: ‘Imagine this. If all of the professional actors and entertainers died tomorrow, how many days before they were all replaced? Whether high or low, empathic or vile—art seems to pour from Homo Sapiens, almost as if it were a product of our metabolism, a natural part of ingesting and excreting. No, sorry. Art may be essential and deeply human, but it ain’t rare.’
What makes the difference between someone with a good idea and an author with many books published is persistence and dedication to the craft of writing and a little bit of luck. (Creating your own luck is a topic for another post).
There are people who plan their plots and people who just grow a plot (I’m one of those). And then there are times when you are revising your manuscript and your vision for the book gets really muddy. We covered revising and editing a couple of weeks ago on the ROR blog.
While cleaning up the first book of my new trilogy (all 3 books due to go to the publisher early next year) I realised that I’d ended book one in the wrong place. This is after spending two months (snatching every moment I had free) to clean the book up and reaching near the end of the 600 page novel, only to come to this revelation.
I was not in a happy place. Well, actually it was a really happy place because I’d been having trouble with the start of book two. And suddenly I woke up (while at World Con) with the realisation that I’d ended book one too late and the last 100 + pages should have been at the beginning of book two. This would give me a much better intro to the characters and set up the story arc for the second book.
Of course as soon as I ended the book earlier, I realised I had the room and time to expand one of the View Point narrative threads and suddenly an extra layer of plot emerged.
That brings me back to plotting. The wonderful Holly Lisle has a page on her website called Plotting Under Pressure. This is a great look at how to pull a plot from almost nothing into something that makes sense, and how to do it in a very short space of time. She talks about your View Point characters, and then the word length and number of scenes.
A while ago the ROR blog covered Beware the Sagging Middle. And also Book Structure 101 . All of which brings me back to the book I’m currently working on.I’m itching to get back to it and pull the last 50 pages together, but before I can do this I need a couple of clear days so I can read it from beginning to end and ensure all the new scenes are integrated with the original chapters of the book.
So are you a planner or do your plots grow organicaly? Do you wake up with the solution to a plotting problem clear in your mind?