Big news about the new Spinetingler if the world doesn’t end before you finish reading this post.
Because the world will end today, and to mark the occasion, some bikers are riding to hell
This is a perfect example of how you can have one thing in your head to blog about, check out the news, and go in a completely different direction. Not one article relegated to the ‘weird news’ section, but three references to the fact that the numbers are scary today. Which means this might be the end. Oooohhhh. I'm quaking in my pajamas.
Despite my own religious background, I find these modern prophets of doom to be amusing. It’s just a number. A number doesn’t have any more power than you give it, unless it’s in reference to book sales, winning a prize or the dollar amount on a cheque.
In fact, when we moved here we were given our choice of phone numbers. One of the numbers offered was 2666 and I jumped at it. Easy to remember, and some might say appropriate for me.
I distinctly remember an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard had been captured by the Borg, the most sinister threat to face humanity since Richard Simmons in spandex. Well, okay, likely since some other ominous species on a Star Trek series threatened earth.
This leaves Riker in charge of Enterprise, facing battle and, judging by the damage the Borg have demonstrated they’re capable of, certain death.
Which is when bartender Guinan, played by Whoopi Goldberg, tells Riker that is a man is convinced he’s going to die in the morning, he’ll find a way to make it happen.
There have been moments in my life when I have been so certain of something, it was such an absolute in my mind and I had no doubt about it. And I’ve seen that vision, that belief, turn into a reality.
All of this has me wondering how much we create our own karma. It’s the chicken and the egg things here. Do we lack the belief in our success (or whatever) because some external force is preventing it, or do we fail to achieve it because we don’t believe we can?
Athletes learn a lot about the power of positive thinking. I’d listen to figure skaters being interviewed after a lackluster performance and many would say something like, “it just wasn’t there for me” and then the gold medal winner would say they stepped on the ice and just “knew” it would be perfect.
You know. Being in the moment. In the zone. On.
I’m not disputing the power of positive – or negative – thinking. But there are moments when a story, when edits, whatever, are just coming together for me in a way that I’m completely satisfied with the outcome, it’s worked out better than I could have imagined, and I don’t say that I just got lucky that day.
Maybe “everything clicked”. As in mentally, I was able to make sense of a bunch of random thoughts and pull them together in a cohesive way, but not because I was zapped by a bolt of lightning and heard a divine voice telling me how the story should go.
Mark Billingham recently vented some frustration with people who say they “channel” their characters. You might find it interesting. Now, I did ask him a question about what he said, in part. I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion he’s one of those insidious plotters that I’d like to kill.
Because I couldn’t plot my way out of a paper bag.
But what he said was pretty helpful, because it reinforced there’s no one right way to plot. Just, at the end of the day, the writer doing their work.
I’m one of those people who finds formulas frustrating and stifling. Oh, there’s merit to some of them. I remember a talk on screenwriting, talking about the 25%, 50% and 75% points in the story line. 50% of the way through a story is the “point of no return” where the protagonist has no choice but to carry on. Some defining moment. The ¼ and ¾ marks are supposed to be where other major dramatic twists happen.
The speaker used a few movies to show how this is applied, on a routine basis, and it was surprising.
But I don’t think that you can reduce a good book down to mathematical equations. Particularly a series book. You read those because you’re invested in the characters. And because you know the character, you typically know they’re past the point of no return early on in the case, the minute they take it on, usually.
While it’s true there are some writing guidelines that can help us, like my recent ones (PISI – people introduced, setting introduced) and MALT (more action, less thinking) and GNDN (goes nowhere, does nothing), ultimately, I don’t take a chart with a list of rules or the elements of a quest and fill in all the categories first and then start typing.
I follow my instincts.
And I “listen to my characters.” By this I mean that I ask myself what would be true for this person, what they’d do in this situation, and then go with it.
Damn pests usually do something far different than I’d do as well, which means I really have to use my brain to project the outcome.
So, while some days I’m “on” what that means is, some days I’m just more focused than others.
And my phone number has nothing to do with it.
Now that I’ve had my little rant about that, which has meandered off into another writing tangent, anyone have any superstitions they want to share? I’m going to be a hopeless hypocrite and admit that I actually do think things sometimes happen in threes.
But I’m only going to fess up about that if 9 people admit to some superstition in the comments.
(Horrid, aren’t I?)
But, speaking of numbers, in the first TWO days that it was available, the new Spinetingler was downloaded over 1000 times. That’s actually Saturday-Sunday tallies, so not even counting numbers after it was mentioned on my blog, DorothyL, Sarah Weinman’s, , Megan Powell’s, or Stephen Blackmoore’s.
So, that’s pretty impressive! I think the only one who got their post up earlier was M G Tarquini. She’s so on the ball she makes me sick.
Oh, and Bill Blume got his post up Sunday. Complete with a picture of his protagonist.
And you know what I'd like to ask these people who insist all books must be plotted before written? How do you get your ideas? Write it down on a calendar that at 2:30 next Tuesday afternoon you will plan the idea for your next novel? I mean, heaven forbid you're just struck with a moment of, ahem, inspiration.
(I'm in trouble now, aren't I?)