Best. Writing Advice. Ever.

I’m starting a new novel (of my own). Still in the Lois McMaster Bujold kick. She writes about her writing process in her afterward to Cordelia’s Honor:

“…my only plan of how to structure my material was to plant an eavesdropping device in my main character’s brain and follow her through the first weeks of action.”

This is what’s known in the more technical writerly terminology as deep POV. Bujold’s a master of this. So is Suzanne Brockmann. You may not want to wade through the multiple subplots and the action in a Brockmann novel, but by God you know what the main characters are seeing, thinking and feeling. This is crucial for character-centered novels, no matter the genre.

Bujold continues: “…my first application of the rule for finding plots for character-centered novels, which is to ask ‘So what’s the worst thing I can do to this guy?’ And then do it.”

IMHO, that’s the most important question when plotting a novel. What’s the worst thing I can do to this guy (or woman)? Torture the characters. Make them suffer. When they suffer they experience emotion. Readers want emotion. Don’t make things easy for the characters! Don’t send them through a string of unrelated incidents intended only to describe more and more angst and pain. A good friend of mine says that the external stuff happens only to showcase the internal journey.

So true. After working on a couple of short pieces I’m starting a new novel. The planning process I go through changes as I grow as a writer. I lurked in Discovering Story Magic a couple of months ago…wasn’t ready to put a story up for brainstorming, but got all the materials. I spent the morning watching L.A. Confidential (what a job, eh?) in order to work through the first couple of lessons and so far it seems like a good way to get yourself organized and ease the writing process (as much as that’s possible…all the planning in the world won’t actually write a novel. You do have to write it. Word by word. It’s AWFUL, except it’s fun, too. Writing’s weird like that.)

Stay tuned for updates. I’m in this one for the long haul.

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