Plots, Characters, Novel Writing and Politics

(FP’ed 3:15 AM, EDT, October 1, 2007

Middle of the night bookmongering. I love it.
– promoted by exmearden

Novels tell a story lived by characters. These characters? They pull us into their worlds. They show us their worlds from the inside. Any good novel has to have some exceptional character development otherwise it will lack multidimensional characters and may be left with uninteresting ones who fall flat and ultimately let the novel down.

Some fictional characters stick with us for a variety of reasons. Characters like the Wife of Bath, Captain Ahab, the white whale, Alice, Holden Caufield, Gandalf, Jay Gatsby, Celia Garth, Beowulf, Hamlet, and so many others inspire us to ask questions about the worlds that exist both within and around us. Some, like Rosencrantz and Guilderstern offer us bits of humor amidst the darkness and tragedy. Others, like Peter Pan, Charlotte, and D’Artagnan, offer us insight into our better angels while still others–Voldemort, Big Brother, Cardinal Richelieu remind us of the darker shadows that surround us.

I still remember the night I sailed the high seas with Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver in Treasure Island. It was raining, storming actually, as I read that book from cover to cover when I was 13. The wind and rain lashing against the window only added to the feeling I got as I read the book.

J.R.R. Tolkien pulled me in as well as I walked with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf headed off on their quest. Same with C.S. Lewis and the Narnia series. Each one suggesting that in spite of all the bad shit going on in the world, someone somewhere still had hope.

Sometimes we read to escape the world we within which we live. Other times, the books we read highlight the wonders of our world or reflect the deep fractures present in our social fabric.

These books? They make us laugh, cry, smile, shiver, scream, gasp, recoil. The writers write…the characters live…the worlds exist…and the readers, we take it in and process the story in our brains looking for implied messages or just a damn good story.

And so even as we growl about lame resolutions vs. rejected amendments, worry about troops who haven’t had a break in ages, futz about leaders who negotiate temporary extensions kick the can down the road, and rail against politicians who seem to not to be doing their jobs in the Real World…1 October is coming.

That, dear friends, means that the new site for the National Novel Writing Month will be up and running.

Sign up! Chris Baty’s reminders starts some time tomorrow.

Me? I have a ship, a car, an old school used bookstore, and a couple characters (or at least the basic sketches of who they might be).

There’s a bit of a plot in my head. But it’s still more than a little bit sketchy.

Anyone else planning on spending the month of November typing out a 50,000 word novel in a caffeine stoked haze while listening to the novel’s soundtrack running through your head?


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    • kredwyn on September 30, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Favorite novel?

    Favorite place to curl up and read?

    Mine was this one room in our house in NJ. The bed was right under the window. There was a giant tree out side that provided just enough shade but still let the light through.

    • pico on September 30, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I’m the type of person who types 20 pages, then burns them all.  I torture myself over individual phrases, and only when they’re finished do I see how terrible they are.  I’m like Paul Dukas without the talent.

    Perfectionism + deadlines = bad combination.

    But maybe I’ll churn something out just for the sake of solidarity!

  1. And it is unquestionably the name that puts him over the top….is Hiro Protagonist, from Snowcrash by Neal Stevenson.

    For me books were always a refuge, but more importantly, they showed me that other worlds were possible. That something else did exist besides our shared reality, even if only on paper or in someones head. I remember thinking quite clearly at a very young age….”why don’t we make this world more like the worlds in books?”

    I still haven’t received a good answer!

  2. or, rather, what i’d call my favorite today would be different that what i’d choose tomorrow… 

    series like tolkien’s and lewis’…and rowling’s harry potter books for that matter…have the advantage of time spent with the character..harry is like a member of our family; he ‘grew up’ right along with my children.

    and my favorite place to read is the bathtub, though im rarely curled up…

    • snud on October 1, 2007 at 9:41 am

    I always related to the character in “To Build a Fire” by Jack London.

    Just when you think everything’s going to be alright (and it’s 75 degrees below zero) a big pile of snow falls on your fire from the branches of a tree, up above.

  3. …for the NaNoMo reminder.  It’s cool to be in the room when people drop by to talk about running the marathon, like one wouldn’t have a massive infraction on some bridge and be carried away by paramedics.  “You should do it!” your acquaintance says.  “Be good for you!  It’s cool!”.  And one nods and says, “Yes, of course, next year, it’s a plan, I have to train first of course…” and one is somehow left feeling vaguely competent in the face of all evidence.

    It’s been a few years since I tried it…have to give it a run next year…get some more writing practice…

    • RiaD on October 1, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I’ll have to go take a peak, but it’ll be next year for me.

    Thanks kredwyn for this little essay. You got me thinking early this morning 🙂
    Usually I don’t participate in these book diaries- everyone seems so damn intelligent, reading books on foreign policy or history. I mostly read Sci-Fantasy with some hysterical romance & young juvenile thrown in. I try to read for pleasure or to escape.

    This week/month my favorite characters are Altair Jones from CJCherryhs Merovingen books and Jenny Waynest from Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane.
    Both of these characters appear to the world to be strong women, but we, the readers, see the inner turmoil as they make decisions.

    Favorite book? Pretty much every book I’ve read. I suppose The Hobbit would be the book I’d take if I could only have one.
    Alas, Babylon impacted my life & how I view the world though & Terry Pratchett keeps me sane now. Just what do you mean by favorite anyway, hmmm?

    Favorite place to read is the bathtub (with a large cool drink & a fat bowlie). At one time it was the only place I could get any peace…ears below the water, arms up holding the book. Now – its still my favorite place to relax & lose myself in another world.

  4. I could go back to the Little House Books series by Laura Ingalls Wilder which I read many many times over a period of 10 years or so.  The Ingalls were like my other family when I was a kid. 

  5. is no longer a bookstore, correct?

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