Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Happens Next

Today I'll spend the whole day at home. I hope to get a lot of writing done on my new book. I don't want to share too much of what the book is about at this point, but it's definitely more of a plot-driven book than I've written before - not plot-driven (yet) in the sense of any clever twists or startling surprises, but plot-driven in that the reader continues reading in a kind of sick fascination to find out what is going to happen next. Indeed, I myself don't quite know at this point what is going to happen next, so I keep writing to find out what the characters are going to say and do to extricate themselves from the mess they've plunged themselves in.

Of course, we also care, as readers, about how the main character is going to grow and change through her experiences. We also care about what larger themes are going to be illuminated by the story. I couldn't write a book in which those concerns were not central to the book. All I've ever really cared about, before writing this book, were character and theme. This is the first time I've really cared so much about what happens next.

I hope this new focus on plot is a good thing for me, a way in which I'm growing as a writer. My beloved Anthony Trollope wrote that he found that, despite his own fondness for creating memorable characters, readers tended to judge his books primarily on the strength of their plots: "I am led to supposed that a good plot - which, to my own feeling, is the most insignificant part of a tale - is that which will most raise it or most condemn it in the public judgment."

But so far my plot, though engrossing in its way, is too linear - too much of "This happened, then this happened, then this happened." So I want to spend today figuring out to complicate my plot, to bring in some oblique and unexpected developments that will somehow build to having it all come together in a fresh and unpredictable way. That doesn't sound too hard - or does it?

Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. Sending good wishes and good luck your way, Claudia! Write on, oh, talented one!