One of the tricksiest parts of writing the kind of story I do is that, at some point, all the storylines need to collide thanks to Causality. I set up a gazillion characters with their own agendas and associated storylines and somehow, they all need to intersect believably for the denouement. Finding their common threads is part of the fun, but getting the various sides aware of those common threads when it’s not to the advantage of the other threads to let them know…that sometimes takes some fancy footwork.
The other extreme, ODTAA, or One Damn Thing After Another, is the most commercially successful kind of book. There might be one or two little bits of setup that makes it all come together at the end and make it look complex, but primarily, you can pick this book up and set it down any time you want…read it over time, and a simple reminder about the basic characters is all you need. If you look at even the monster books that make it big, they’ll generally have a fairly straightforward plot. TV shows used to be the ultimate ODTAA. In general, they still are, with just one or two recurring threads tying it together, one season to the next. There’s nothing better or worse about types, just different.
I’m on one of those “pulling strings” scenes now. In an ODTAH book, our hero would be in the bar and the bad guy would just conveniently spill his/her secrets, all in the name of keeping the plot moving. In mine, after four books of setup, Secrets are coming out and my kids have somehow found themselves in a similar situation, not a bar, but still…and making the necessary Revelations believable…ain’t easy. I’ve had the basics of the scene for some time, but now, knowing what comes before and after, it’s time to make it work. It’s coming together rather quickly, which isn’t that unusual…I’d have expected it to eventually, but what scares me is that it’s coming together in a brain riddled with virus, snot, saline and mucinex.
I think I should be afraid. Very afraid!
Problem is, it could be legitimate. I can’t not write it out. When the words are there, you’ve gotta use them. Sure, that’s what backups are for…if a clear head decides it’s garbage, go back to an earlier version and start over…but there’s also the possibility I’ll get this bar scene stuck in my head permanently and have to write around it for the next twenty years! ARGH!!!!
Just once, I’d like to write an ODTAA…..
10% off all e-books and physical books until Jan 1.
Yes, I confess, Hallmark makes them just for me. Altho I admit, I prefer the funny ones. I write such long, involved, angsty stuff, it’s nice to just sit back once in a while and watch something simple and predictable. I record them all and delete about half as unwatchable, but I do enjoy a lot of them. I’ve even gotten CJC to admit a few as worth watching.
Well, she doesn’t turn them off, anyway.
Years ago, after I sold GroundTies, et al, I went back to WAZZU to try and get life credit for my two missing GURs in Humanities and get my degree. The head of the English department, sitting in an office draped with plastic against major remodelling…in a three piece suit…in August… in Pullman (it was 100 degrees outside) sat back and said pompously, “Whereas selling a novel is certainly an ac-comp-lish-ment, it does not replace nine-teenth century lit-ra-chur.” (Danislav could have been modeled on this fool, but I’d already written the book. )
Mind you…I’d sat in on a couple of those 19th C lit classes back in my college days looking for Humanities classes I wanted, and listened to these pompous twits deconstructing stories and talking about all the hidden symbolism…and never ever talking about what the books really meant both to the writers and to the people reading them, the way they moved reader’s guts and why and how… (I maintain none of the deconstruction means anything unless they have it in writing from the authors that that was what they were thinking when they wrote it….sometimes a whirlpool is just a whirlpool) Anyway, I’d had my fill of writing what some clueless Lit person wanted to hear in my active college years. I wasn’t about to warp my mind…especially a mind needing to write not deconstruct according to some non-writer’s rules…in order to get a grade…so I remain without my degree.
Edit: CJC brings up a great point: the only useful kind of question in this context w/b to ask students what they would have done differently in a story and why. These idiots do NOT know what the creators were thinking when they wrote these classics.
(Trust me…these two disparate subjects will come together!)
When I was a kid, I was really moved by the story “Gift of the Magi”, so when I saw a modern retelling among the listed options, I was quite excited.
Five minutes into it, I deleted it in disgust. Newlyweds moving into a HUGE city flat that “needs a few holes filled” (likely nail holes from the previous tenants…this place never saw so much as a cockroach) Our “hero’s” “treasure” is a vintage car that needs a special steering wheel. Our “heroine’s treasure” is a camera for which she wants a fancy lens. HUH?!? Give me a break. Gift is about giving up the only material thing you have to celebrate a time of giving with the most important person in your life… even when you have NOTHING. About love being far more important than material things.These two have jobs in the city. A city apartment. Money for a tree and gifts. They want TOYS!
I wish I could say this is a gross destruction of the message for the sake of relevancy, but I don’t think so. I think it’s bad fanfic by someone without a clue. I think they really believed it was equivalent.
It disturbs me how often I read or watch something where the real depth of meaning of the story being created is simply lost. Part of the job of a writer is being aware of the psychological subtleties and implications of the story you create and at least trying to use them effectively to help the reader gain insight without preaching to them. You don’t necessarily write to do that…for instance, I write from the gut and only realize the implications after I’m into it…but at some point you need to edit with that clarity of sight. I see way too much setup and lack of follow through in both books and movies/TV.
I blame those Lit classes.
(Edit: one of the greats of SF expressed it far better than I. Uncle Ike’s Immortal Bard)
Good news first: Scalzi blog comment is commented! Thank you all for reminding me. He’s offering a “reader recommendations” on Friday (I think.) Any recs w/b appreciated!
Now for the bad news. I’m finally getting off my behind and getting my books up on the B&N site. Took my beautiful epub file that passed every test available, uploaded it…and their robot refuses one file, claiming an unlinked link (no specifics, and a test of the file shows NOTHING) and loses more than half the toc in the one it does accept. I’m…not pleased. Looking at their recs, they want me to undo all the things I’ve done to the files to make them more multi-reader friendly. Grrrrrr….. They want everything in pixels rather than percentages and huge page margins that will render them unreadable on small readers. Double grrrrr….. They want each ToC element in a separate html file (which indicates to me their robot is building the ToC rather than using the supplied ToC ncx file, which is the one I carefully created. GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!
All of which means more effing time spent modding files rather than writing or decorating. And first, I’ve got to tackle the office and get the new modem up and running.
I want to go back to being sick with no brain. That way I can pretend all of this doesn’t exist.
Pooki gave thanks for his new Pervy Sage wig:
Wiishu gave thanks for his first parade and a Eushu, er, Toothless balloon:
Me…I give thanks for all of you!
Reviews (obviously) welcome. If you’ve liked the changes and find them worth it, would love it if you could mention that.
Will get the rest of the Ring books up and try to remember where I left CJC’s marine book. I thought I’d put it up, but remembered, when I had a brain again, that I hadn’t.
Meantime…I continue to make slow progress on HomeComing Games. Setup was so smooth on this book, but the middle is proving really hard as a million subtle elements need to be ironed out before I can actually figure out how it ends! ARGH! For me, the key to finishing a book is when I hear the final line…and that hasn’t happened yet. Soooo frustrating. I at least think I know how all the major elements come into play for the denouement. I think.
And (for those not on FB) now the stupid virus has blessed me with a full-blown, stinky stinky sinus infection. Grrrr….Still keeping symptoms under control so breathing continues (nice!) and no real problems with that pesky cough (the minute I feel it coming on, I go rinse and it goes away) but the fact that the side that always gets impacted is the same side that has the problematic tooth/gum has me a little worried. That swelled up again Sunday and Monday, and I was going to call the dentist as soon as this virus was over, but this AM the swelling was gone and the yummy yellow yuck flooded my kleenex. BLEH! I hates sinus infections.
Have a message in to my doc. Not anxious to have another round of antibiotics…not interested in being the breeding ground for the next super-bug resistant to all antibiotics…but no more jokes about Pooki’s viral-infected sparkie-spit!
So…I go up to LinkSys to see what they’ve got for routers now and I find “Wireless AC”. Pros and Cons oh techno-folks?
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