Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Friday, February 27, 2009

Uncle Timbo's Unending Rant, Volume 82: Plotting

I actually had a relative by that name, a generation or two ago. Timbo Akers. We were braver with our names, in olden days.

So. Plots. This is something that bothers me, because it's a weakness of mine so I'm hypersensitive about it. Active plots. Things happening. Characters performing actions. Resolving. This is the way I think about. If your character gets into trouble, but can't get himself out of trouble, he isn't worth reading about. And I mean this only in relation to books that are meant to be exciting. There are books that are meant to be revelatory, or insightful, or didactic. I think writers make the mistake of thinking that those kinds of books can't also be exciting, and are in fact better when they're interesting to read on top of those other adjectives.

If your characters are constantly being saved by third parties, then maybe the story is actually about those third parties. If they're constantly being saved by coincidence, agencies outside of their control, or the forces of nature...well. Then you're not really writing a novel. More of a travelogue. Best to dispose with the charade of characters altogether and just, you know, talk about this world in your head for a couple hundred pages. Just don't expect me to read it.

Unless, of course, the ending really justifies the whole experience, and I'll be a better person for having struggled through your meaningless, endless rambling exposition and dialogue and set dressing. I'll totally read that.

I'm kidding. A book like that I'm just going to throw away. Seriously.


At 10:55 PM , Blogger colin said...

Uncle Timbo™: Who Needs Clarion?


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