Friday, August 15, 2008

When Writing is Like a Long Drive

We went on vacation for two weeks, four days of which were spent just driving between North Dakota and Colorado. Drive. Drive. Drive.

When I was driving in the Front Range or in the Black Hills, I enjoyed the trip. Every twist of the road or turn of the head was rewarded with fantastic vistas. However, there are long stretches where there's nothing but lots of flat farmland. Occasionally, some interesting feature will catch your interest,

like the world's largest Holstein cow,

or a lovely field of sunflowers,

or a dilapidated old barn ready to collapse on itself.

But the rest of the time, you just forge ahead, counting down the miles to your goal. Drive. Drive. Drive.

Writing a novel can be like that, too.

Some days, the words flow and every plot twist rewards you with an incredible scene or exciting revelation. Then there are the important but flat parts that you have to push through for the sake of the story or to give your reader needed information. Then, the only thing you can do is write, write, write.

If you're lucky, however, you'll make some discoveries: that phrase that, like the World's Largest Cow, will catch your reader's attention and stay in their minds even after they're finished the book. Or the description that, like a field of sunflowers, brightens the entire scene. Or the segment that taken on its own is like the old barn and you wonder what that piece of junk can be worth, but when put in the context, gives the entire section a unique interest or even beauty.

That's why you can't just sit and wait for inspiration. It's like sitting at home wishing to arrive; you'll never get there. You have to drive.

And who knows what wonders you can discover on your trip?

Word Count:
48,840, and now I'm at the drive, drive, drive phase.

Fave Phrase: Vern and Sister Grace are back form rescuing Heather. It did not go easily and Vern is not happy. However, they've come across some information that BILE needs, and he's decided to take his own kind of revenge.

"What're you doing?" Mustache asked as I took out my small inkpot, opened the lid and dipped my writing claw into it.

"Our rescue was strictly an independent operation, remember?" I tossed Rakness a dark look but spoke reasonably enough. "So any information we might have acquired on said operation would be our own--"

"You mean to sell this information to us? I thought we were trying to protect this country--both our worlds, for that matter. What kind of patriot are you?"

I looked at him like he was a stupid mortal and didn't mention that I wasn't a citizen of the United States--or any nation for that matter. "Funny thing about saving the world," I said philosophically, "it always manages to get un-saved. Kind of wrecks the job satisfaction factor. Philanthropy, though... Grace how much did the Christian Brothers say they needed to start that school in Territory?"


unwriter said...

It's amazing how easy it is to get to the boring parts and get stuck. I've read too many books that have more flat farmland and not enough large cows. Let the character write the book, the sunflowers will show themselves.

Wait! That non human has some surprises awaiting. How will it twist the plot? Write through the farmland, move that stalk of corn and expose what your story really is.

Joyce Anthony said...

Great post and lovely pictures!! I never thought of the connection, but it makes perfect sense--Thanks, Karina!!

Karina Fabian said...

Sometimes, the boring parts are only boring to me. For example, I was up until 2 am this morning trying to write a scene. Vern (in human form) and Charlie are going into the jungle to do some recon. They decide to get supplies at the local flea market first.

Big yawn, at least while I was trying to write it. Once I got started, though, the characters took over and I had a couple of interesting insights. Kind of like those Burma Shave billboards.

Then I got to the fun part, where they're chased by a mechanical tiger who ends up falling into the volcano. Easy to write, but not as interesting intellectually as the part I had to slog through.

(The mechanical tiger has nothing to do with the fact that I was up until 2 am, I promise!)