Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration ala On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner

There are so many nuggets to find in this book of essays. Today's inspiration takes the writer beyond the desire for language. I thought about the days I spent reading the dictionary and the Thesarus flowing from word to word. But there are more things to being a writer than words. Words are the foundation. Without words one couldn't be a writer. There is more to writing than the words,

Are you fascinated by characters? The people in the story need to be seen and lived with. There are times when I immerse myself so much in the character, I almost become them. Being startled to find that Joe or Mary are mind children rather than the people I interact with.

Action is another part of becoming a writer. An event happens to a mind child and seeing how they will react and act can be fun. There are also actions outside the character. Floods, fire, other disasters will cause a character to some kind of action. One of the first stories I ever wrote was a short one and was triggered by an experience I had when training to be a nurse. The thought of facing sick people seemed to me to be a serious one. I was very new to the process. A patient asked me why I didn't smile. That moment became the seed for a story written years later, called A Small Smile.

Now we come to a third element. Setting. This was for me a problem. Perhaps because I'm not a visual person. When others see scenes I see words. An editor told me my characters existed in a vacuum. Took my years to learn how to feed the setting into a story to make this seem real. I still struggle with this element.

How about you, does one of the elements of story-telling come hard when the others come easy?

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