In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move. (Henry Rollins)
We may be the last place in Canada to get a taste of real winter weather. So, no complaining. We rejoice in the beauty of snow and blue winter skies reflected on the water.
A great story is life with the dull parts taken out – Alfred Hitchcock.
Morning grey on the Fraser River – day two of our fall trip. Nothing dull about that pic. In novel writing, we want no dull characters, no dull situations, no dull settings. But, let’s be clear on what constitutes dull. The definition, in terms of writing, is unique. Any action that doesn’t move the story forward is dull. If teeth brushing is integral to the movement of your story, then teeth brushing is not dull. Maybe your character is brushing her teeth and as she spits blood into the sink, she decides once and for all to leave the brute who smashed her in the face that morning. Definitely not dull.
On the other hand, the photo below, is vibrant with fall colours. It is no dull grey expose but what does it have to do with the story? The colours may pop but if they aren’t moving the story forward, dull, dull, dull.
Action is plot and plot is action. I’ve read that genre novels are action driven. Lots of things happen to the character. Literary novels are more about the interior life of the characters. It could be said that the character happens to the plot. In each case, the story must find a way to move. It seems to me that most good novels are a combination of the two.
A plot without good character development is all action and no bonding. The reader can’t get invested. On the other hand, character development without a plot is like being all dressed up and having no where to go. And by the way – have you ever heard of a Turban squash. I hadn’t until we stopped at the Marisposa Organic Fruit Stand outside Keremeos.
At its most basic, plot is how a character deals with challenge. And it’s all about movement. Want something, go somewhere, learn something, come out the other end changed. There you have it. Bare bones, but if you can’t see down to the skeleton, you can’t write a decent novel.
The photo below is Sunset in Osoyoos, the end of day two of our fall trip. The bulrush chimes near the art gallery. I hadn’t been back to Osoyoos since selling my dad’s house in 2010. He’d died late the previous year. I wasn’t expecting the return to bring back such powerful, overwhelming memories. Death changes everything.
No two persons ever read the same book. Edmund Wilson – critic – May 8th, 1895-1972.
Any author who has received reviews of their work will tell you the truth of Wilson’s quote. Writers write and readers interpret.
As Anna sings in the hit Disney classic, Frozen – Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore.
As a writer, I fling my words out into the world and I let the readers do their job. Each person who opens one of my novels will bring to the book a unique set of life experiences, attitudes, values and expectations. Each will read a different book out of the very words available to all. And so it should be!
Yesterday, Ash Wednesday kicked off the forty days of Lent. For those who follow church time, Lent is traditionally a period to clear out the excess that clutters our days to make room for the new life that will come with Easter. It is true that the new will have a hard time finding a spot to settle in with us if all the available real estate is taken.
Without a doubt, our lives get cluttered. Objects, behaviours, ideas, activities – you name it – somehow, these things start to take up way more time, energy and space that we ever thought they would. In the best sense, Lent can be the broom that sweeps clear and helps us get back to the basics. Lent can be a time when we hone in on what really matters to us and how we might find our way to doing what we can to enact change.
Here is a list of ways to make change this Lent (by no means exhaustive and only meant to prime the pump of your own imagination):
“Everything in life has its own time. There is time to celebrate and there is time to mourn. This is the time for reflection and transformation. Let us look within and change into what we ought to be.” (Aaron Saul)
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for a home.” Edith Sitwell
There are always flowers for those who want to see them – Henry Matisse
A hearty little snapdragon that is still blooming on Dec. 1st!
Flower Friday! Home from our travels to Alberta to find that we still have hints of colour poking up here and there. Love the North Island.
A lonely Angel’s Trumpet in the green house along with a vibrant chrysanthemum.
Lovely to be home and I can’t wait to start writing again
All Saints Day – also known as All Hallows – thus last night was All Hallows Eve!
A bit of reflection on saintliness via some literary minds is a nice way to start the month of November. This list of quotes came to my attention on Writers Write blog.
Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent. (George Orwell)
If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary. (Margaret Atwood)
Saints have no moderation, nor do poets, just exuberance. (Anne Sexton)
Kids delight in ‘magical thinking’, whether in the form of the Tooth Fairy or the saints: whether you see these as comforting lies or eternal verities, they are part of how we help kids make sense of the world. (Emma Donoghue)
In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints. (Frederick Buechner)
Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. (Oscar Wilde)