From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moments vs Story

I think every writer tends towards one of two sides: moments of brilliance or geniusly elaborate story. Like in photography, its sort of like a macro versus a pan shot. Each writer has the own character and style that focuses, cares about and emphasizes one side over the other. One is not necessarily better then the other, its just an individual thing.

In the 'Geniusly elaborate story' side, the big picture is the most developed. This is where you get a lot of crime novels, and writers like J. R. R. Tolkien. Television drama like Crossing Jordan or CSI usually tends towards this side. The writers spend most of their time coming up with an intricate and intriguing story. To be totally honest, this is most definitely not the side I fall on; coming up with cool plots is not my forte.

On the moments of brilliance side, things like character quirks, bits of dialogue or a beautiful description are what matters. Poetry falls pretty much 100% under this category, unless you're Homer or Milton. Also this is where you get a lot of sitcoms like The Office or Frasier, where the stories aren't all that elaborate, but you watch it for the characters and funny moments.

Obviously the key is to get some of both. I would say an example of a generally story-oriented work that has some moments of brilliance would be Harry Potter, or Lost, the moments being the Snape chapter in the seventh book, or for Lost, any scene with Michael Emerson. And on the other side, you could say that what is really important in a book like Gone With the Wind are the character quirks and moments between Scarlett and Rhett, but it is also a sweeping and elaborate story that the moments kind of add up to.

Its hard to go against natural tendency and incorporate more of the side that is harder for you, but recognition is the first step, and I think it could turn out to be a useful and beneficial exercise. I know that in my case I focus so much on moments that I have a hard time writing anything with structure. But we're all growing, right?

So what do you guys think?

Sarah Allen

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