Log in

The Past | The Previous

Plot, plot, plot.

I don't know that I ever considered myself a plot based author before these current books.

Actually, I should clarify that. One of my pet hates is when an author says, 'Oh, such and such is so plot based,' as if, in any book, there is no plot. All novels have a plot, just not the same one, or the same kind. Narration dictated by action is one, but so is internal narration, symbolic ones, and so on and so forth. A non-linear novel that relies upon repetition to create a sense of opening and closure is engaging in plot. Plot is, at least in my mind, the exo-skeleton of the novel, by which actions and meanings and events and such hang off. So when people sit up and say that something has no plot, or has too much plot, I usually just sigh and, lets be honest, attempt to bring them to my way of thinking. It would be nice to say I sighed and let them have their opinion, and I try, but I think the world would be a better place if they had my tastes.

Either way you stand on this, I used to think I was mostly a structure kind of writer. I worried about form, perhaps more than anything else, though I often tried (and try) to be a nice stylist of my prose, as well. One of the strange things about the Children series is I came up with the form early on--an ensemble cast structured in a series of chapters building similarly to the way the new series form of television shows (Breaking Bad, Deadwood, etc) to climaxes and reveals--and that meant I largely had my structure down for three books. For a large scale project of three years, it has become a foundation from which everything else is built. What that has mostly meant is endless scheming on my part, as political machinations blend with personal ones, history mashes with current events, and a cast of main and minor characters find themselves spread out, each serving their own agenda. Whether or not it is successful and intricate or not people will have to decide for themselves when the book is released, but the more I write the books, the more and more I am surprised by how much of that dense event plotting occupies my headspace. Often, I go back to correct small sentences, to alter motivations, plant clues, give important plot swings more emphasis, and so on and so forth. Some people call that pantsing, but I've always thought that's an ugly word. I just call it editing.

I find it a strange experience as I sit here editing and writing. In hindsight, I think I started this shift with 'Below' in Above/Below. The structural conceit of that book was come up with very early (the flip book, alternate narrators bit) and I always thought the story was a touch out of character for me for that. It is a kind of political driven science fiction thriller and the base structure really just provides a platform for the rest. That book will really prefigure the Children series, I suspect, in the body of my work, and should it be a large enough body, a new strand will have begun there, though it will have very little in common with it content wise (except, possibly, a man with a metal leg--that appears in both).

Anyhow, back to work.