clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Catch the Mouse

I don't know what else to call it but the mouse.

I've spent all of my memory reading and a pretty generous chunk of it writing. These things are completely different.

In reading, I am absorbing and twisting what the writer provides me into what I want to it be. If I don't like a theme, I might ignore it. If I don't like a character, I might skip ahead. I use the writer's story as a source for what becomes the story in my own mind. In some I take verbatim what I am given. In others, I take very little and play with the story over and over turning it in my mind into what pleases me.

I'm not sure this is quite the usual perspective of a reader but I have learned to examine things more closely than the next man. I'm a school trained bear and cannot take matters on the surface. Occupational hazard, as it were.

In writing, there is the thing I want to accomplish. There is the bit I want to convey. It's different than plot and different than just characterization. I suspect it is an event chain that leads to an emotional state I want to impose on my reader. Those are poor words to describe the desire for the writer's communication but they are as close as I can come.

I want to catch the mouse of the story and allow the reader to see it caught without having to crawl around or wonder WTF? I want to convey something other than the story. I don't know what to call it so I'll call it the mouse of effect.

I'm working on the interlocking chain of conflict-derived obstacles. I'm working on the transformation of the protagonist throughout the story.

This week, I bought Ben Bova's book : The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells in hope of finding a little bit better approach to what I'm doing now. He describes William Foster-Harris' technique of visualizing a character's problem in the form of emotion v. emotion. The conflicting emotion theme drives their perspective as they encounter the plot obstacles you throw at them.

I liked this. For someone who has a plot-centric approach to storytelling that has to be tamed, the lens of internal emotional conflict will help a great deal with my writer's perspective.

 I also want to recommend Ben Bova's text.  He's an accomplished editor and knows writing not just from the SF field. [ Remember Omni ? That was Bova's and it set a pretty different direction for mainstream publishing during the late seventies.]  Nothing I've read in the first half of the book is SF specific except for his caution that SF writers must be consistent in their use of rules for world construction.

His advice might be simple but I think the construction points he covers are solid foundations that we all use but might not recognize consciously. I need to see a little more of the core points of story right now to feel the confidence a writer needs to project in his prose. It's a self-diagnosis that isn't far enough off truth to hurt.

There's a mouse out there. I'm going build the trap to show it to you. Yes, you might squeal like little girls when you see it. Emotions can be that way.

No comments: