Monday, May 11, 2009

From the Archive - My evening's plot

This was part of my contribution to our group web page - www.keepwriting.org - a July 2008 mostly daily blog.

I’ve been reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I started it a few weeks ago, then picked it up tonight as part of my campaign to do more of what I like – reading, reading, reading, writing, cross stitch and napping. The book was recommended to me by a person who I otherwise think of as pretty flaky, but who seems to have the same taste in books as me, as she also got me started on Neil Gaiman, who is part of my personal pantheon of best writers ever.

Chabon does an amazing thing with description and well-paced action that pulls you along through the story. I’m still close to the beginning, so we are meeting the various characters, the main ones to root for, the bad ones to despise and the supporting cast to walk along with, and getting to like the protagonists. Soon, though, there is going to be a reversal in fortunes for one or the other of them and I am going to be upset on their behalf.

Sometimes I stop reading when I get to that point, because so many authors are so heavy handed with the stumbling blocks that plot requires be put in front of their characters for conflict and resolution. In writing classes Tony Grooms used to say, and he was not the first, that conflict made a story. No conflict, no story. So my protagonists, who I am getting attached to, cannot just be born into a comfortable situation, live carefree lives and stroll off into the sunset being naturally healthy, wealthy and wise. I know the two main characters live to be successful, so they personally will be okay, but I am not looking forward to what Chabon does to the people around them.

I hated having to tear myself away from the book, but I made a deal with myself for 45 minutes of reading, then 30 minutes of writing. I actually read for closer to 55 minutes, but I had to end at a chapter or at least a logical break in the story flow. The writing is actually happening quite a bit later, because I was balancing my checkbook online, then I had a date to watch Penn & Teller Bullshit, then I got distracted by miscellaneous stuff on the television. (I told Scott that when he and his BFF Eric are off on vacation next year, I am turning off the cable – and I might really mean it.)

Distractions notwithstanding, I am back here writing, which is the key part of this story. I was going along good with the reading of actual literature and good intentions of writing, got sidetracked and almost waylaid by the demons of the computer and television, but then was able get myself off the couch and back up here to get the words down on paper. No one died, there were no explosions, and no hot guys showed us their abs, biceps or pecs, but still a successful story for me when it’s all done – which is now so I can go to bed and start over tomorrow.

~Noelle 07/10/08

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