Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Stranger Than Fiction--The Movie
Okay, who’s seen it? For you writers out there, this a movie that’ll make you laugh. You know, those—Oh, sheesh, I know just what she’s talking about kinda laughs. I laughed louder than anybody else in the theater. I even laughed at places no one else did. You just gotta be a novelist to understand. For you readers, this will give you a little insight as to what it’s like to write fiction day after day.
The movie trailer tells so much of the story, that I won’t be giving anything away here. The novelist—a literary sort played by Emma Thompson—can’t figure out how to kill off her main character. (Yes, she kills them in the end—can you imagine?) She’s having conniption fits because she’s totally stuck and can’t finish the book. She’s “researching” by watching people and trying things and smoking a lot. I don’t smoke, but when I’m stuck, I do wander around my office and talk to myself and generally kick cabinets. Well, the cabinet-kicking is a metaphorical thing, but one of these days ...
At any rate, when the novelist finally decides how to end her book—eureka! She’s euphoric! She got the answer? And how did you finally come by it? asks her assistant. The answer that follows is my favorite quote from the movie:
“As with anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method.”
Now I’m not an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer, but I can still identify with that line. In this last book I just finished (Crimson Eve), I hit a place where I didn’t know what to do next. I knew where I had to get my character—just wasn’t sure how to get her there. I kicked cabinets and generally felt miserable for a good number of days. This is the time when my ever-loving husband starts to give me sympathetic looks and pats me on the head.
Then we were on a drive. In fact we were on a drive researching where my character would be driving—my husband behind the wheel while I took copious notes. We stopped at a business—and eureka! There it was. The answer came while my husband, son and a third man were talking. I was sort of standing in the background, not listening to them at all. Listening to the wheels turning in the head. Then—there was the answer! Without thinking I threw up my hands and cried, “I got it!!” All three heads turned my direction. Huh?
How did I get my answer? Heck if I know. As the character in the movie says--inexplicably and without method.
And the idea worked, too. I was able to get over the hump after that, and in a few weeks had finished the book.
Writer BGs—what can I say? We’re strange folk. Reader BGs—hey, if you didn’t have us odd ducks in this world, who’d write the books for you?