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Since my last post, instead of writing I have been indulging in some larger screen Netflix – larger than my smart phone – and more than a bit of theoretically professional introspection. Some of which was directly involved with my most recent Netflix addiction – Jane the Virgin. One of Jane’s subplots is that she’s a writer, in grad school, trying to find her center (figuratively speaking). Jane, like myself is a romance writer; and like myself, is struggling to find the balance between the cliched conceit of the genre and a truly good novel.

Introspection can be a very useful tool. With insight gained from a telenovela I have had a look into how I structure and plan my novels. What I discovered was that while I thought I had one main plot per book (which I did), that it was joined by a series of subplots. I did not. What I actually had was a series of plot devices. Sometimes, in the form of bad things happening to my characters, purely for the purpose of keeping my plot (singular) moving. Or to make them appreciate the meager happiness I afford them.

This introspection will allow me to plan my novels better. I’m not a super planner, I’ve always been a solid mix of planner and pantser. I need to know where my story is going, and to an extent how it is going to get there. But I like the journey itself to be as organic as possible. Rather like Jane Villanueva I have to deal with a head full of highly opinionated characters. TV land allows us to literally see Jane’s characters, mine just sit in my head and shout at me until I write what they want me to. After I’ve written it, I can do with it as I like. I can change and edit to my hearts content, on the condition that I write what they want in the first place.

I have a number of things that I want to experiment with as a result of this introspection. Types of narrators, the fourth wall, time and place – which raises the topic of my family’s oral history, my family (whether they will admit it or not – mostly not) are wonderful storytellers, at least in oral short-story form. While you don’t have to believe me, it was something of a shock to me that some of my memories aren’t even mine – they were stories of my family members that I heard as a child and they stuck with me.

In the mean time, I hope that you are all working on your own NaNo prep. Or, if you’re not a writer, that you are reading books which capture your imagination and refuse to let go. I’m settling into winter, but I don’t think I would go so far as to suggest that it is a transition I am willing to make.

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