22 January, 2017
Meaningless Meaningful Methods and Fruitful Formulas... and arbitrary alliterations...
Most writers can boil down their method into a few words. These words will mean almost nothing to anyone else, but can be interesting to hear. They've certainly be useful to me.
Neil Gaiman: "Make good art." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI)
Paul McAuley: "The reader follows the character, not the story."
Scott Bradfield: "It's all about point of view and narrative time."
Elmore Leonard: "F**k you! I'm working! I wrote a book with 10 of these epithets already!"
If you haven't read it, get it:
(Do note that this book is extremely short and simple, and it's entire contents, roughly 1,000 words, can be found on the internet. Personally I enjoy having a hard copy and found my investment, some 7 years ago, valuable. If I'd just read it online, it wouldn't be there calling to me and I wouldn't be reminded of its importance every time I look over my bookshelves.)
Anyway, most of us have a stupid epithet because it helps us. Einstein said if you can't explain something in simple terms, you don't understand it. What that means in this context is, explaining something in simple terms helps you understand it.
And I think I've discovered my formula, so:
Wm. Luke Everest: Something you care about, written in a simplistic way.
Let's break it down.
Something you care about doesn't have to be about politics, or culture. It can be that you care about your fantasy world. Or, as is usually the case when I write, it's caring about a character and that character's journey. Either way, before you sit at the keyboard, ask yourself why you care. When you type, do care. The objective here is to make the reader care, too.
Writing in a simplistic way doesn't mean it looks simple, or even that it would be simple for someone else. What it means is, it's a story you have a handle on, and it all seems simple to you. This doesn't even have to be from the start. Maybe you're really pushing your boundaries. Great. But by the end of it, if you can't look at your story and go, "It's definitely all about this stuff here, and it all works because of this," trust me, the book needs work. Why and how it works should be very obvious to you, the creator, by the end. If it doesn't work for you, it won't work for anyone else.
There will of course be exceptions to everything, and I do not claim the above to be all inclusive for everyone. The whole point is, it's inclusive for me.
So there it is. My little method might not help anyone. It almost certainly won't be your phrase. But I've always found reading other writers' methods interesting and useful.
My pointless picture for pinterest is of a kitten at a keyboard. I thought about a monkey at a typewriter, because that's what I feel like sometimes, but then I thought, kittens are cuter, so why not? This is the sort of thing I frequently wake up to, anyway. The joys and tribulations of living with a cat.