Friday, January 19, 2007

Slowly, slowly figuring it out

Molly posed a great question at the beginning of the week. What kind of a writer do we want to be?

Timely, as this was one of the subjects of a recent bout of drunk writer talk. Knowing what kind of a writer we want to be, doesn’t mean we have to tie ourselves down to a particular genre, but I think it might really help identify our strengths and find stories that play to those strengths.
Although we probably already do that already, without even thinking about it.

I want to write fast paced, tense, plot heavy books. I already try to do that, but recently I realized that more than anything I want to take my reader on a journey where I manage to surprise them more than once, reverse their expectations, and make them not want to put the book down.

I don’t think I’m ever going to be the kind of writer who brings a tear to a reader’s eye, and I’m OK with that. (The seven step program is working)

The TV equivalent of the books I want to write -well 24 and Battlestar come immediately to mind, mostly for their amazing plotting and their ability to constantly leave me guessing about what is happening. I aspire to that level of excellence, minus the gadgets.

It took me a while to figure all this out. I think I can say the same thing for Molly and Maureen. It took figuring out my voice and writing a few books, before I knew for sure what I was trying to do.

What does it mean going forward? I know the kind of books I want to write, and I think they play to my strengths as a writer, the stuff that comes easily. Well, along with that I have to acknowledge my weaknesses and continue to work on them.
I hate the small scenes, the emotional scenes, the scenes that add that wonderful relevance and sense of emotional connection that if done well, elevate a suspense novel to a really good suspense novel. They are hell for me to write. The scenes both Molly and Maureen seem to write effortlessly are the ones I struggle over.

The really great writers combine everything. Characters we can relate to, amazing plotting and those scenes that make you sigh and bring a tear to your eye.

So what kind of a writer do I want to be?

I want to be a constant work in progress. I want to know that while I do some things really well, that I’m getting better at the other things.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not along in wanting to be a better writer.


Molly O'Keefe said...

good answer -- a work in progress writer!!! Smart.

I think it's so easy at the beginning of your writer life/career to get a bit blown about -- by the books you love, the writers you love, the rejections you get, the off hand comments people might make. We're told what we HAVE to do and if you're not good at it you struggle and struggle never once thinking -- well I can compensate for that with this. (insert strengths and weaknessess at will) You sort of get yourself painted into a corner. I know I did - for sure. It's good to just figure it out for yourself - the one thing it seems we can control in this crazy buisness.

That and how much procrastinating we do -- I'm exceling at that right now. Really working it into a science.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Sinead. And yes, we need to keep learning, keep getting better -- even once we're all on the best seller lists :-)

Sinead M said...

I'm procrastinating as well... Glad to know I'm not alone..

How many gossip websites can one woman read???

Maureen, I like your confidence.. but if I get to the best seller lists, I'm planning on coasting for a little while

Christine said...

This is a great answer Sinead. And I would buy your books in a second if they were in the same vein as BSG and 24! Love those shows. :)

Sinead M said...

Hey Christine,

In my wildest dreams, I wish I could produce a book as entertaining as those shows.

But Molly and Maureen are sick of me talking about BSG... and how great it is..

Jordanne Ford said...

I'm going to mull over what kind of writer I want to be. I know being a 'non-procrastinating one' would be top of the list. I just need to dig deeper and figure out why sorting my sock drawer is easier than actually writing. Especially when I've got the characters shouting loud and clear that they're ready to be heard. My bad.

I am pleased to report that I went to Rogers this morning and rented BSG the miniseries. One question though, is this the first and then it goes to Season One Disk Two? The Rogers staff couldn't really help me on that and I'd like to go back and follow it from the start.

Maureen McGowan said...

The miniseries comes first, Jordanne.

Enjoy it!

Sinead is cruelly holding season 2 hostage (okay, it's not out of cruelty -- someone else has borrowed it) so I may have to go rent season 2 myself.

Jordanne Ford said...

I rented it, Just Like Heaven and a movie I'd not heard of called Close your Eyes with ER hottie Goran Visnjic. It sounded pretty good, I just hope it doesn't disappoint.

Thanks, Maureen. Season one disc one was out, so I didn't want to miss anything. Seeing how I've already missed a lot by the sounds of it.

Jordanne Ford said...

Sinead, I watched the miniseries BSG and all I can say is OMG!

I've caught a few episodes here and there, but not enough to truly follow things. Wow, such great characterizations. I had the same excited feeling watching it as I did watching Return of the King. Not that I'm comparing it to LoTR, but the feeling I had watching it, getting into the characters was the same.
In fact, I'm heading into work two hours early tonight so I can catch Dreslin at 9 and BSG at 10 before I start work.
I'm such a dummy for not watching before now.

Sinead M said...


are you completely caught up? If not, wait, and watch the series in order. Space is mid way through the 3rd season.
This show really needs to be watched in order to truly appreciate it.

That's all I can say...
I'm glad you enjoyed. I'm really glad someone else understands my close to obsession with this show..

Jordanne Ford said...

I felt the same way once I got into Invasion last year. The only reason I started was because I think Eddie Cibrian is well, just so hot, but about two episodes in I was well and truly hooked.

I did watch it last night and had a couple of 'oh, that's interesting' moments but here's hoping that by this time next Sunday I'm caught up. I work 10 hour shifts this weekend, so I'll have plenty of time to watch it, although, that will mean I won't get any writing done.

Sinead M said...

Hey Jordanne,

It might be tough to catch up cause so far only seasons 1 & 2 have been released on DVD.

Season 3 is still in play, so it won't be released until late summer.

But this is definitely one of those shows that are best watched in order.
Personally DVD works best for me, because I'm too impatient to wait a week in between episodes.

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