Monday, September 18, 2006
A Novel Idea
I received an e-mail this morning from novelist John Baker. He wrote:
"Thanks for your blog. It kept me out of trouble today, and I'll be back
What a HOOT! An unsolicited e-mail from a professional writer living worlds away. Imagine that. It has sent my little brain a bubbling.
The first thought this concise little e-mail provoked, involved the craft of writing. John, in very few words, piqued my curiosity, like a kitten in a yarn shop. What could I have possibly posted to keep that man out of trouble? What sort of trouble? And who the H*ll is this devilish imp of the U.K.?
Aha yes, in one short sentence, he set up suspense. The mark of a true writer.
Second, I would like to say, the internet sure is cool! I love connecting with all of you wild wonderful cybersouls out there.
I remember back in college, when I studied the French impressionists. Oh, how I delighted in the idea of Monet, Degas and Van Gogh sharing ideas and forging friendships. It was such an eye opener for me to realize, all these great masters played upon one another.
Creativity does not live in a vacuum. There is no such thing as a completely original idea. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, like players in a grand game of leap frog, trailing back to the dawn of time.
Beyond that, my mind jumped to my current focus on the study of the writers craft. In a recent round table discussion with Nita Sweeney, our group explored the use of dialogue identifiers, or tags:
-The boorish clown in whiteface guffawed heartily...
My current little mind game has thus been to dress up in my Glenda the good witch costume, and bop through my books, whisping my magic wand and asking, "Are you a good tag or a bad tag?"
In addition, just for fun, and Oh, what fun it is my friends... I have gone back through my novel-in-progress, (Working Title: The 9483 pages of vomit on my hard drive) in an attempt to eliminate as many tags as possible.
Some techniques I am using include:
-Using the voice of the character to offer identity clues
-Using dialect (with caution)
-Have the character speak on a subject, or from a point of view, which only one character knows about.
-Use of location to communicate who is speaking.
We explored a piece during the round table, wherein the author managed to write ten pages of pure dialogue without using one single tag. Pretty amazing.
"It's fun to see how far one can go without the crutch of a tag. Try it." Kelbell said with a wink and a smile.