Thursday, 19 March 2009

More is More

Having decided that there are two distinct skills required to write a novel - the ability to plot and the ability to write in an engaging manner (which, I fear, is pretty much what Agent Cox told me several years ago) - I have been focusing my energy on reconstructing my plot to The Commuters. It wasn't very strong. But I didn't know that until I read it with an eye for developments. I like my new eye, for it has solved problems and answered questions. Well done eye, and thanks. Just need to work on the ears now so that they properly listen to other people. Naughty ears.

Okay, I still haven't quite fathomed the intricacies of plot, despite having twice read Michael Legat's nearly excellent Plotting the Novel. I'm uncertain precisely how plot affects emotional response, or how to fully control sub-plots. But the idea of constant development - an idea that I feel must be buried in that book because it must've come to me from somewhere - has gifted me with a different vision and has, I hope, allowed me to finally understand why my fourth chapter sucks and why my manuscript appears to noodle at times, despite the fact that I'm really not noodling at all, but am laying foundations for some hot revelations and reversals.

To minimise the noodle-effect, I've also built in more developments - that is to say that the big developments remain in place, and I've staggered smaller developments along the way. As such, the reader's understanding grows frequently and in small increments, rather than infrequently and in big increments.
To be honest, this feels a little unecessary in terms of the reader's understanding - after all, the same knowledge is gained by the same point in time. However, what has changed is the constant involvement of the reader through these frequent developments.

Perhaps more really is more?

Undoubtedly, there are more revelations afoot.
Good foot.


esruel said...

Interesting stuff as ever, solvey. And mega-important, too. How much information should the reader be allowed, and when?
Of course, it is also about how much is needed, too. A large chunk of info may be necessary at a given point, and the size of it may also be determined by the style of writing as well as by its importance at that point.
I would always guard against a steady stream of info, as I like a jagged edge. Trying to keep the reader on his/her toes by surprise, perhaps. Subjective, though, so I can't be dogmatic about it! :-)

solv said...

Makes sense Esy, and I think the idea of surprise warrants its own blog post!
(Certainly don't want to go dangling those Gods from their machines now eh :-)
I wonder, too, if the 'Aha' factor can come only when a reveal (twist) has already been set up. In such a case, the surprise would come, not from the Deus ex Machina, but from the author's brilliant development.