Friday, February 09, 2018

That February feeling

There's an awful lot of the glad game going on in my head at the moment, the subjects of which I won't bore you with, and my mood is far too dependent on whether the sun is out. Yep, it's February.

And trivial stuff annoys me to a ridiculous degree...such as people misattributing quotes to Oscar Wilde. Misattribution is a pet hate of mine anyway, but when someone quotes Wilde as saying 'The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole' I feel like pelting them with a pile of very sticky ones.

And then there was the author of A Little Life (that long miserable, harrowing novel about child abuse) who was asked in an interview what was the last book that made her cry, and she said 'I haven't cried since 1995 and I don't intend to start.' My reaction was Would you want this woman as your friend?

Bad tempered? Moi?

On the plus side, I have just about finished the third rewrite of my new novel. And I've lost an inch round my waist, despite the bag of Werthers Originals in my desk drawer which I bought as research for one of my characters.

Lastly, my 13 year old grandson is becoming more and more interesting to talk to. Last weekend he said this: 'The reader has more empathy for the characters than the writer does.’ I am wondering if it is true.


marmee said...

I think your grandson might be right. Some years ago an author decided to stop writing a crime series I had become very fond of. We , the readers, had our last glimpse of the main character in an ICU unit, badly badly injured. When I read that she would not be writing any further books in this series I wrote to her to ask if this was indeed true. She replied , plainly much amused, that I was not to worry, "he" would be fine! I do wonder though about the relationship between the author ( creator) and these people in the story. I genuinely grow fond and deeply interested in characters in a book and more so when it is a well written series. Another author of a series wrote recently that she had thought to stop writing about that world and those characters( she had lost her husband first to dementia and then to death) and had said so to her publishers but found that suddenly the place, the people were back , there was another tale to be told. I wonder if your grandson is thinking about the harsh happenings that an author can expose their creations to. The author cares about the book, the plot, the story and we the readers have bonded with the character!

Sue Hepworth said...

You are right, Marmee.
Writers are taught to be cruel to their characters. Look at these writing rules from Kurt Vonnegut - all of which are worth thinking about:

Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101:

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
Start as close to the end as possible.
Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Anonymous said...

I started a gratitude journal at the beginning of February which I write at least three things every night before bed (as I bought myself Dr Chatterjee's book "The Four pillar plan" for Christmas in which its mentioned and was the easiest thing I could action) - just realised its the glad game written down. I do like the tangible nature of having written down the things I am grateful for - rather than just being in my head - and cumulatively its very powerful. Apparently. I'm hoping so.

Yours Polly (Jenetta)

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks, Pollyanna, that sounds like something worth trying.