Friday, January 22, 2010

An Onion by any other name, well it's not the smell that matters (for my purposes)

So I have made it past another funk (thanks, Heather Kelly, for getting me working) and I think I can write again. I was feeling a little messy for a few days, like my fingers couldn't even move. One of the things I love about writing is the epiphanies. They don't happen nearly often enough. The moments when everything seems so clear, when this writing is like you're god making the onion one layer at a time.

So I think the epiphany began with Fire and thinking about characters making entrances. It continued with Mr. Dahl, and thinking about POV and narration. And finally was pulled all together with Jesse Lee Kercheval and her book, Building Fiction. I love all writing books and hers is one I've turned to over and over again. I've read these chapters more than once, but the wiser I am about writing, the more I get out of her examples. I read the whole chapter "Continuing Conflict," but the section on "Internal Conflict Development" was exactly what I needed.

When I was in grad school, and before that really, I learned the show, don't tell rule and I learned it hard. Internal character thoughts felt like telling (so, you know, instead of being confused they scratched their head) but a first person narrator talks about thinking. Does it not?? But learning how to do this effectively has been like pulling out my teeth. It should be kind of elementary(my dear Watson) when I look at it now.

But if I think of the story in terms of the onion, or, wait, do I think of myself like an onion? Because maybe I can't see that part of the story, until part of me is peeled away? I'm not sure of the onion metaphor, But, finally, my characters' thoughts are part of the conversation, where the conflict speaks and my MC responds with something that, like good dialog, furthers the tension. Or at least she will soon.

Can you tell that I'm learning to pull everything apart? That's why first it was the entrances with Fire and then that breaking down the smart little narrator for FMF and now this, the thoughts. So the story is the onion, but I am too.

As Always (working it out),
Tina