Friday, May 8, 2009

Suspense Novelists with Multiple Personalities

One of my favorite authors (one of a very few who don't write suspense), Anne Lamott (she can make me laugh out loud or spring tears—sometimes at the same time), wrote the following in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (by the way, it's available on Kindle):

Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don't worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.

Today, I had a good writing day for me. I'll need a lot more of them if I want to cross my self-imposed finish line of mid-July for my first draft.

I tried (like a willing athlete) to follow a bit of Anne Lamott's advice—to write to the emotional center. I won't know for a while if I was successful because I'm refusing to put on my editor hat at this point. I'm feeling a bit bipolar about the whole thing, but there you have it.

I also tried (oh please oh please oh please let this have worked) to take a page from Dean Koontz and draw out a bit of the tension. He's a master at making the horrible moments last. There's no way you can skim through a high-wire scene in a Koontz novel. No way.

But at one point, kind of toward the end of the drama, Stephen King's sardonic sense of humor butted its way into my scene. It didn't even apologize. It wormed its way in and I wrote it. It wasn't a big deal. It will either work in the end, or it will stink.

If what I wrote today makes the cut and dodges the delete key, I will figure out a way to take full credit, necessitating the deletion of this post. If it doesn't work, I will toss out the advice and examples of Lamott and Koontz and King like so much flotsam.

Yeah, right.

When you're writing, do you ever um . . . split your personality? Does someone else try to toy with your voice?

CR: Dead On by Robert Walker. This book will hit the shelves in July, and so far I'm liking it very much. You may want to make note of it.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I'm new to your blog and new to writing ... really enjoying your tips and honesty, thanks!