Friday, July 09, 2010

Simplicity

I'm thinking of the best books I've read lately, and they seem to have one thing in common, a simplicity of story and a brilliance in the telling of that story.

When I think of the Hunger Games, it can be summed up in one sentence. Young girl sent to fight to the death against 23 others. And, even though there is so much more to the story, that really is the heart of it. But the author keeps the story fascinating by constantly upping the stakes, changing our expectations, in what is a really simple storyline.

The new Sherry Thomas, taken to it's heart, is the story of two people shaking off their secret identities and falling in love with what's underneath and she really keeps the core of the book to that specific idea.

What I'm finding in the less successful stories I've read recently is that they can't be summed up as easily. they have so many different elements that are core to the story that each element loses impact in the telling.

Simplicity is difficult. It requires an inventive plot to keep the simple story humming along, while still remaining true to the central concept and compelling characters, because there is nothing shiny to distract from them.

Simplicity is really, really hard to do well.

Off I go to find something shiny to add to my current WIP, until I figure out how to make it more simple.

6 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Sinead. ;) I love the minimalism.

LOL Sinead's back at work this week and I assume having difficulty posting.

Eileen said...

Sometimes simplicity is indeed best.

Sinead M said...

Ooops... had a bit of a keystroke error while getting this blog post ready..

I hope my original post wasn't better than what's there now.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Now I read it... and I still agree.

Eileen said...

Interesting. I just finished reading a Lee Childs book and I was struck by how clean and straightforward the plot line was. The mystery was plenty complicated, but our hero's trek through it from beginning to end was a thing of steadfast beauty.

My current WIP? Not so clean. I'm going to have to think hard about this one. I'm also a little concerned when I realized I'm more than halfway through the story and my hero and heroine haven't kissed yet! Ay yi yi!

Maureen McGowan said...

Okay, so I made my first comment when this post was empty. :)

Simplicity is so great and so hard. But I agree, some of the best books are great because they're simple.

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