Saturday, August 1, 2015

Signposts Along the Plotland Trail

The most recent issue of The SFWA Bulletin contained a Michael Bishop quote that I paraphrase here for emphasis. "...No one writes a novel, but instead writes segments of a novel that may eventually become the novel initially imagined..." He goes on to say that a writer should concentrate on writing good scenes that will be knitted together to comprise the work.   Others have told me that no writer ever understands what their novel is about until it is done.

I take this to heart as my struggles with the novels under development writhe and squirm under my fingers, the characters and plot struggling to wrest the story in directions known only to them.  Meanwhile, in my role as shepherd and breeder I attempt to steer them away from dangerous marshes of uncertainty where they may become eternally trapped.  Sometimes a character wanders far afield from where I intended to take them and I must send my sheep dog of editorship to bring him, her, or it, back to the fold.

That then is my failure.  I've attempted to take the story to a specific end instead of merely concentrating on achieving the next narrative quarter mile (0.402336 km) as Bishop states. Perhaps I should emulate Chaucer and his band of storytellers, revealing one interesting episode at a time while nevertheless continuing onward to the cathedral of completeness and see where that takes me.

Perhaps it will lead me to virgin country or, at least, as satisfactory conclusion.


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