<$Susan Goodwill$>

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nano Tip #5

Yesterday's goal--not so good, although I saw a really great amateur production of Little Shop Friday night (worth the hour-and-a-half round trip for the backstage tour alone) and a wonderful band, Blue Cat, Saturday night. So the weekend stimuli fed the muse nicely, and she has no excuse now to hide. Except that she's a muse.
I'll be baiting her with caffeine and breathing exercises today to get her out of the bushes and back on my shoulder.
I feel like a little Annie Lamott today. How about you?
Nano Tip #5
Life is Not a Submarine
This excerpt is from the wonderful Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott, from the section on plot.

Plot grows out of character. If you focus on who the people in your story are, if you sit and write about two people you know and are getting to know better day by day, something is bound to happen.
Characters should not conversely serve as pawns for some plot you've dreamed up. Any plot you impose on your characters will be onomatopoeic: PLOT. I say don't worry about plot. Worry about the characters. Let what they say or do reveal who they are, and be involved in their lives, and keep asking yourself, Now what happens? The development of relationship creates plot. Flannery O'Connor, in Mystery and Manners, tells how she gave a bunch of her early stories to the old lady who lived down the street, and the woman returned them saying, "Them stories just gone and shown you how some folks would do."

That's what plot is: what people will up and do in spite of everything that tells them they shouldn't, everything that tells them that they should sit quietly on the couch and practice their Lamaze, or call their therapist, or eat until the urge to do that thing passes.

So focus on character. What happens in Faulkner's books, for instance, arises from the nature of his characters, and even though his characters are not necessarily people you want to date, they compel us because we believe that they exist and we believe that the things they do are true to who they are. We read Faulkner for the beauty of his horrible creations, the beauty of the writing, and we read him to find out what life is about from his point of view. He expresses this through his characters. All you can give us is what life is about from your point of view. You're not going to be able to give us the plans to the submarine. Life is not a submarine. There are no plans.

And a special good luck to my friend Roman White, nominated for Country Music Video of the Year for Carrie Underwood's, Jesus Take the Wheel. Watch tonight on ABC 8 PM Eastern.