Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Novel 101 (Starting Over)

I know I've been incommunicado for a few weeks now.

But, like spring, I do believe I too am emerging from winter and hibernation, tossing off some covers and turning my face towards the sun.

I've been doing lots of reading, a little traveling, and am in the process of wrapping my head around a new way of looking at things, particularly my WIP.

I think one of my strengths as a writer is how I capture the quiet moments of my characters, their introspection, their "resting." And that's all well and good, but in and of itself it isn't enough. As one of my most trusted readers/editors put it, I need to "earn the resting" and I need to earn it through action.

I know this, I really do, but I don't always do it. I can fall in love with my own paragraphs, sometimes, to the detriment of the whole. Last week I was talking to high school writers (one of my favorite things to do) and I found myself saying, over and over, "No matter how beautifully written a scene is, if it doesn't move the plot forward it has to go." They'd nod at me and jot down my words (almost like they thought I knew what the heck I was talking about) and it made me feel all professional (which is nice) but when I was driving home and thinking about it I realized that I needed to hear that advice more than those kids did. I need to listen to my own pearls of wisdom. And put them into action.

Next week (or maybe sooner, depending on how the week plays out), I'll be opening up a brand new document. And I'm going to allow the "what if's" to fly across the page. I'm going to earn my resting. I'm going to be open to the possibilities of magic in the world of my characters. I'm going to be prodding myself to know that it's in the characters' doing that emotions are elicited and honest and true. I'm going to be relentless that every scene--action and quiet--has to move the plot forward.

Because while the resting is important, I need to remember that growth is an action.


kristenspina said...

Judy, this is wonderful. I love when you write about writing. I can't wait to hear more about how this revision moves forward.

Wishing you lots of good writing days, and happy happy spring!!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Thanks, Kristen--and I'm wishing the same good thoughts right back to you!

Therese said...

Judy, you're so wise and wonderful that those traits will inevitably emerge in your stories in just the ways you need them to.

Happy writing!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Thanks, Therese--it's nice to be starting over in spring! I'll keep you posted.

Carleen Brice said...

This made me smile. It's funny how easy it is to give advice to others, isn't it? And so funny when they take it! At least from me.

I'm like you: I have to push myself toward the dramatic. And I learned that lesson from a really terrible writer. Very humbling to learn something from a guy who couldn't write his way home. HOWEVER, about my writing, he kept saying "Nothing happens." The rest of the group would be all caught up in how lovely the nothingness was, but that guy was right. Who wants to read a story where nothing happens? So I owe him one.

Happy Spring!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Happy Writing, Judy *smiling* I need to get busy on my 2nd VK novel -- due to the publishers at summer's end - oh!...but, I can't wait to dive in...*smiling*

Looking forward to your next book!

WA said...

Great post. I appreciate it very much.
And gorgeous pictures, too.