Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Go not to the elves for counsel...

for they will say both no and yes."

If you can identify the (a) the source and circumstances of the quote (within an acceptable degree of precision) and (b) the typo in the original, thou art a geek forever (and not [necessarily] of the chicken-head-biting-off kind).

I tend to think of this quote when asked how I go about writing.

Often, beginning writers are more than merely curious about my admittedly idiosyncratic methods. Some seem to feel that there is a "magic rule" to writing a novel - that if they simply uncover the magic rules they will have a novel. And a good one, too. In truth, of course, there is no such magic pill. What works in one situation will not necessarily work for another. Kind of like building a bridge.

Recently, I was asked whether I start with a character and then write to allow the plot to develop, or start with the plot and then let the characters develop.

The answer: a little of both. I'll start out with a situational idea (e.g., the Galileo story in junior high or a vegan in a deli) that has a beginning and an end, but nothing remotely resembling a plot outline. I will, however, populate the situational idea with relatively well-developed characters. I'll then write a first draft.

Like those of Hemingway, my first draft will be [insert scatalogical metaphor]. I will then go back and work out the problems in the plot. Once this is done, the characters go back and make it work.

Easy as pi.

1 comment:

jason evans said...

I'm not cheating here, so I might be a little off. Isn't that quote from The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo and Sam meet up with the band of elves in the forest? I believe that Frodo was asking for advice, since Gandalf has mysteriously not arrived in Hobbiton as promised. When the elf (I'm forgetting his name), doesn't give clear advice on what Frodo should do, Frodo softly chastises him with this quote, which humors the elf very much.

By the way, I'm stopping over from your wife's site with the instruction of wishing you a happy birthday. So, Happy Birthday!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...