From this post.
“A pile of mood is not a story”
Beautiful. Thank you for that.
Aww, shucks. *blush*
I spent years–nay decades –trying to make a coherent narrative out of a pile of moods. Most of the moods were similar to each other, and annoyingly enough never found reason to change. That is, until I started getting outside of my own head and actually talking to other people. Oh, and discovering that novels are all about “people doing things– for reasons.”
The dirty secret of the literary world is that your Great American Novel won’t last in the minds of others for 30 seconds if it doesn’t have a story behind it. You can be as clever, artistic and knowledgeable as you want, but people need to have reasons.
A novel is a river. The plot is the current. The living denizens are the characters. The weather is the mood. Without a current, you have a swamp. People will not wade through swamps for just anybody. James Joyce can force people to wade through his swamp because he was the first famous person to write one on purpose. And, his writing kicked ass, and few– if any of us can match it. He was a genius. Don’t rely on your genius to get the job done.
Reach your readers, whom ever you want them to be. Just make sure that they aren’t all little copies of you.
The best way to do that is to have friends, neighbors, relatives, and significant others who love you– yes love — enough to be your guinea pigs. Otherwise, you pay someone who’s willing to go the extra mile and be a real editor for you.
Real editors will tell you what sucks, what works, and what doesn’t. A real editor will give you ideas in the middle of the night of what might work for that gaping hole in your story that you can’t seem to fill. Real editors don’t really exist anymore, save for the rock stars of the writing world– and often not even for them.
So you find the folks who are crazy enough to deal with you in the middle of an ugly writer’s bender. You know what I’m talking about. You write, maybe drink, and snack on awful foods and don’t do much else. The house is a mess, and could fall down around you and you wouldn’t notice. You haven’t showered, your eyes are watering and crossed, and you are hot, stiff and cranky, but mysteriously pleased to see them. The fatigue stands between you and your gratitude and you grouse about being interrupted.
Yet they come in anyway– and gently tell you that you need to eat. That your ass might be numb. That your hair and teeth need brushing before you resupply your empty larder. And they make sure you save your work before you leave your computer. They ask how things went and are willing to listen to as much– or as little– as you are willing to tell them. They will leave you alone without going away. They will wait through the stream of words, self-hate and exasperation and still see that the you they like is still there, somewhere.
Most people call them spouses. I know that I wasn’t able to truly mature as a writer until I had someone who was willing to tell me every day that me writing was truly worth while. He was even willing to put aside his knee jerk reactions to give me real criticism, not empty praise or thoughtless put-downs.
Once you discover you have one, treat them like the awesome heroes they are. But the whole thing about the writer alone is a dire misnomer, and has lead to many of the worst abuses in the literary world today.