Old Moon

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Tricks?

There was a time when I looked forward to writing something either as a parody or "in the style of." An assignment for 18th C. Literature in college involved writing an essay as Jonathan Swift might have done. I had a ball. At this late stage, an acquaintance whose taste and ideas I admire has been pressing me to write a novel using a theme he suggests with a plot line he supplies. It's not anything like what I've done before, and I'm finding myself truly baffled as I try to figure out how to go about it.

The idea is a good and probably salable one. It's a mystery (he defines only the conflict). I can't seem to manufacture the train of events leading to the crime and its aftermath. Furthermore, he fails to understand how hard it is to make a story unless you (the writer) know the characters who will act it out. I can't get my head around the four main ones. I have thus far three versions of a beginning, complete with different names in each attempt.

Having just taken a look at a passage from one of my novels, I realized something that doubtless should have been obvious from the start:  if my style or voice or whatever you want to call it is too set, how can I hope to create people and motives from someone else's original notion?

Apart from the challenge of producing something analogous to a work for hire, I now face a question that should have occurred to me long ago:  should I try to learn flexibility again, or should I stay stubborn and loyal to what I seem to have become?

And anyone who wants to point out the old saw about an old dog and new tricks, you may keep your remarks to yourself!   ;-). It's a fallacy. You can teach even an oldster if she's willing to learn.

1 comment:

Glenda said...

Amen! We can learn at any age if we want to and have an interest in the subject.
I am reminded of my nephew saying to others in the family about me, "How many women over the age of sixty do you know who have their own blog?"
Well, I had to laugh as the internet is filled with people over sixty who do much more than have their own blog.
As for writing the story, go for it, if you are interested. As for me, I have to be invested in the characters to write convincingly about them. But with a thriller the story is plot driven, and I enjoy books and stories that are character driven. Does that make sense, Joan?