Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Writing Tip Tuesday

Which came first - the chicken or the egg?

The character or the storyline?

The majority of my books started with character. The character came to me. I knew her/him through and through. But I didn't always know what the heck their story was.

AND - even if I have a story, I can't put pen to paper until I know the character completely.

Not so with Stephen King:

The situation comes first. The characters - always flat and unfeatured to begin with - come next.

Here's another interesting tidbit about Stephen King's writing:

In some instances, the outcome is what I visualized. In most, however, it's something I never expected...I am, after all, not just the novel's creator but its first reader. And If I'm not able to guess with any accuracy how the damned thing is going to turn out, even with my inside knowledge of coming events, I can be pretty sure of keeping the reader in a state of page-turning anxiety.

And why worry about the ending anyway? Why be such a control freak? Sooner or later every story comes out somewhere.

I find this very comforting - since I tend to get frustrated when I don't know where my story is headed.

So - what's my point?

My point is that we all have different styles and different approaches. What works for one writer may not work for another.

But, perhaps more importantly, what works for one book may not work for another.

Stephen King quotes are from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.


Anonymous said...

Oh Barb, I cannot tell you HOW MUCH I needed to read this today. I never have a plot. I have a character who interests me and I fear getting to the end of the book and STILL not having a plot.

Right now I fear not even knowing what the MC wants more than anything else.

debrennersmith said...

Since I don't write fiction, but instead I write writing mini-lessons and teach writing until my kids and husband want to through me in Lake Michigan, I wonder...

I wonder:
This is why sometimes I start with the lesson of what the kids need to learn based on what I am noticing they are missing in their writing.

Sometimes I start with a story the minilesson and I realize oh I could teach with this. Sometimes book or a picture book or a picture jumps out at me screaming use me to teach...

My lessons for teachers are posted at:

Barbara O'Connor said...

Deb: Thanks for sharing. I'll check out your lessons! (Teaching writing can be tricky stuff - so many different ways to approach it - and kids often respond differently based on their own abilities, styles, etc.)