Thursday, April 14, 2016

Looking to the Master for Solutions

I'm 50 pages into a novel due in August (I know, don't say it), and to make matters worse, I hit a roadblock this week.

I don't usually consider this a bad thing, but the book is going where I thought it would go. The story seems to be moving too fast. Maybe that's because I outlined before I began. I'm not sure why, but the plot is playing out quickly.

So this past weekend I backed off, stepped back, and did what I do whenever I get stuck — I read a crime novel I thought would inspire me. When things are going well, I look for new authors, new voices (I just finished Bangkok 8 by John Burdett). But Saturday I reached for Raymond Chandler's The High Window.

Why Chandler? Why now? Here's Chandler on stalled plots: "Whenever I get bored a man enters the room carrying a gun," he once said.

So I read The High Window, and then — and please don't read too much into this — I went to church Sunday morning and, when I should've been listening to the sermon, thought of a necessary plot twist. I'm sure this says more about the kind of Episcopalian I am than either the quality of the sermon or the quality of my plots (I can assure you that God did not intervene).

But maybe Raymond Chandler did.

Saturday, I read one line in The High Window, about halfway through the book, and discovered where, perhaps, the master might have gotten "bored." The perfectly-timed, logically-positioned plot twist adds a secondary storyline and a layer of depth to the novel. I was truly inspired by The High Window but didn't realize it until I went back to my own novel.

Hopefully, I learned something.


Charlotte Hinger said...

I'm sorry my blog title was so close to yours. I started mine as a diatribe against plagiarism and ended up duplicating some of your points on going to the masters for instructions.

Also, as an Episcopalian, I had to laugh about novelizing during the sermon.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Oh goody. I managed to change the title. I didn't think I could do that without wiping out the whole blog.