Monday, May 24, 2010

"What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here."*

When I write, I don't outline the whole plot before I start writing. I don't write out each plot point on little Post-it notes, stick them all over the walls, and rearrange them periodically as the story evolves. In fact, I don't do any kind of formal plotting at all. I don't even really consciously think about plot (except occasionally in the shower when some combination of hot water, steam, and suds inspires the synapses in my brain to fill in the answer to a plot question I never asked).

So it came as somewhat of a shock that a lot of feedback I've received says I'm great at plotting. Screw all the backstory I came up with (but not necessarily included in the actual story) to help enrich each of my characters and the setting and all the workshops, reading, and writing I've done (including this blog) to help develop my voice. Nah...none of that seems to have infused itself into my writing in any way that would make someone praise those things...but plot, that thing I've hardly thought about, yeah, got that down pat!

Maybe I shouldn't complain about getting compliments, but I can't help but let it annoy me that something I've put very little effort into is getting all the praise, while other things that I've worked really hard on earn no recognition at all, or worse, garner criticism.

(Did I mention how much I struggle with taking criticism? I'm great at faking it...I nod my head, like I really agree with this person who probably took 10 whole minutes of his/her life to read my work. I smile at them and make them think they are really coming up with some great points for me to work on. But really, as they pick apart my beloved story piece by piece, I think Did I really pay (or do a critique of this person's work) to be made to feel like a complete idiot who has no business writing for children and maybe has no business alive at all because based on his/her criticism, I clearly have no redeeming qualities that warrant my existence.)

So in an effort to get my brain to get off the plot train and onto the character one, I've been thinking about people I've met (or sometimes people I've just seen) as characters in fiction. I'd like to make this a regular feature on my blog. I think I'll try to stay away from anyone I know who might read this blog (although I have so few followers, that will probably be easy to do!) and stick to acquaintances, near strangers, or those I have met and am likely never going to see again.

Check in soon to meet Christina and Don, some characters the hubby and I met in St. Lucia. And feel free to share how you go about developing characters...because I clearly need all the help I can get!