Friday, July 1, 2011


Essentially, there are no new plots--only a rearrangement of the details. That rearrangement is half creativity and half razzle-dazzle. At least that's what I call it. The writer can be creative as all get out, but if they don't believe in their story and characters, then they're just typing a lot of rearranged letters.

That razzle-dazzle is what makes the difference.

Genre doesn't matter. Romance, mystery, tragedy, comedy...none of those matter as long as the writer is totally immersed in their world. If the writer escapes their world and characters the razzle-dazzle stops.

How many times have you read a book that just seems to fade away half-way through the story? Some people try to assign it a writerly explanation by calling it the "sagging middle" or some such thing. Nah...

It's just the point when the writer left the story behind. Other things captured their attention. It could have been a personal or family problem or maybe even a different story. But for whatever reason, they left their characters and world behind.

Even if they finish the story, they aren't participating in the action anymore. They moved from storyteller to narrator. You know the difference don't you? The storyteller is living the story. He or she is the one sharing the story around a campfire on a dark stary night. The storyteller enthralls because he or she is living the story.

The narrator, on the other hand, is passing on the information second-hand. The narrator hasn't lived the story so he or she is at a remove from the action. Whereas the storyteller lived the bank robbery, the narrator read the police report. That's not the same thing at all.

The trick is to be able to tell whether we're in storyteller mode or narrator mode. Are we there inside the story? Or are we watching it on television?

And if we've shifted to watching it from the outside, how do we jump back into the story? What do you think? Have you ever found yourself on the outside of your story?



  1. The first paragraph of this sounds like something I heard Neil Gaiman say in response to someone who thought he should sue JK Rowling for copying one of his stories with her Harry Potter series. There were similarities.

    I've stopped some of my stories and they're sitting there unfinished because I lost the storyteller feeling. Maybe one day I'll find it again.

  2. Heh. Great minds? Maybe. I sometimes wonder how much of a collective consciousness humans have. I, too, have stories sitting half-finished because I left those worlds. I think that's why some series die. The authors don't live there anymore.

  3. I was thinking about this just this morning. I was thinking about how little clips where I put myself wherever I want and everything happens the way I want always play through my mind. They're always so intense, I have to write them down to make them leave my mind. I need to work on doing that with my novels, really getting into the story. Great post. :)

  4. Well said, Anny. Its difficult to story sancetell straight through without slipping into narrator when your tired or your mind is fogged.