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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Backwards logic

One thing I love about writing is that you can use backwards logic. You do not necessarily have to understand all the motivations when you begin a story. You can get sudden insights as you write and then you can go back and foreshadow/weave bits in.
Sometimes, the bits are already there, and others you need to offer a few more hints.
When an editor is looking at your work, she will be using logic forwards. In other words, does it make sense from the beginning?
But writers are not editors. Writers create and the process of creation can be messy.
Often the insight into why does not come until the last page of the first draft. Sometimes, it takes longer.
The simplest reason for this is if a writer knows all the twists, turns and motivations, the story is told and the writer may become bored. I love the fact that Ian Rankin has been known to write in capital letters things like THE GIRL FROM PAGE 20 COULD BE IMPORTANT. His books are tightly plotted but even he allows his daemon to play.
In other words, sometimes knowing too much can destroy creativity. If you understand the motivations, you might lose focus of the purpose. Objects can take on symbolism as the story progresses, rather than having their symbolism telegraphed.
In early drafts,everything is fluid. Lose that fluidity and your wordscan harden like concrete.
For me, I prefer I sketchy road map. Some authors like to have every blade of grass detailed. It just depends. It is another great thing about writing -- there is no correct way to write, and each manuscript throws up different problems.
In other news:
My cold is getting better -- hooray!

4 comments:

Nell said...

I always now have a rough two page outline when I start but often the finished book will be quite different from what I first envisaged. The beginning and end are the same but the middle gets dictated by my characters.

LindaC said...

I'm like you, Michelle, I can't do too much plotting. I write down things that I see happening or that my characters tell me that will happen. Just a rough sketch and away I go.

LindaC

Kate Hardy said...

Glad your cold is better. Definitely hooray.

I'm still wedded to plotting. (And being flexible.) Things go pearshaped when I try to wing it.

And it's occurred to me that, in order to 'pantster' a book, I need to know my characters and conflict so well that it's the same as writing everything down, just keeping it all in my head. So I think I'll stick to my plan.

Having said that - you're so right about the backwards logic thing. Sometimes it's only in the middle of a book I realise I missed something important from my plan.

India said...

Michelle-- this is music to my ears. Often the things you point out so calmly shine like lovely spotights on the chaos in my head and show my that it's not all as random as I feel it is!

So glad you're feeling better. x