Friday, January 17, 2014

In depth experience vice skimming the web

The other night I learned that in the 1700’s when the Steam Engine was invented. Human knowledge doubled every 120 years. Today it doubles every 2 years. By 2020 it will double every 72 hours. Think about it. What does this mean for us as a species and even more importantly what does it mean for us as writers of fiction.

I believe that people will become experts at finding information. We won’t know things - we will know where to find it. I think our kids are already well on the way. They know how to navigate the web, finding the answers to their questions quickly, and surfing across the top, rarely diving in. Think about how almost every procedure is written out in fine detail. Every bureaucratic directive is instantly propagated around the world. Very few people are experts on one thing and no one is an expert on everything.

Like the Missouri River, our knowledge will be a mile wide and an inch deep. The one exception will be “Fictional Stories”. Novels will be the only place that people take the time and effort to totally live life through someone else’s experiences.

 I believe very strongly that Novels are different from other forms of entertainment be they games, TV, web surfing, or anything else dealing with information flow. When the reader falls down that rabbit hole they experience the story in the first person. They feel, touch, smell, and hear. I think that Novels will be the escape from a world full of surface shimmers. The one place a person can go to get away from information overload.

We need to remember this, we need to insure the reader experiences the story at the sensory level. That we show them new things and lead them to new places they wouldn’t have found by surfing across the top.
 Reading “A Tale of Two Cities” is different than reading a web site about the French Revolution. Diving into “The Grapes of Wrath” is not the same as playing Mario Cart. I believe people will want more of these experiences as they get inundated with more information. What do you think?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Things That Turned Out To Be True

When I started this writing thing a few years ago I began by reading books about writing and doing a lot of research online. Looking for the quick, easy answer on how to write the great American Novel. Needless to say I didn’t find  it. 
Several of the articles and books consistently mentioned things that I found surprising when I read them and later turned out to be very true:

1.      Your reading for pleasure experience will change. You won’t look at books the same. You will start seeing how you would have done things differently. It can become harder to stay down the rabbit hole. I have found that selecting GOOD books that are significantly different than what I am working on makes the reading experience better.

2.      The middle is the hardest part. Writing that novel begins to drag around the 30K mark. You probably have figured out how the book is going to end and you just want to get there. I have found that if I am having a hard time getting over the hump that if I drop a mountain on my characters. Introduce something I hadn’t anticipated it goes a long way to energizing my writing. It also helps having critique partners that help keep you motivated and working towards your goals.  See this excellent post about goals

3.      Writing “The End” after you finally finish your first novel will change you as a person. It is something they can never take away. Achieved something that you probably doubted would ever happen. Maybe something other people doubted about you as well. You have created something out of nothing. What is more, now Hemmingway and Tolkien are just like you. Enjoy it, wallow in the pleasure then get up and do it again.
I have learned a lot of new things about craft and the rules of writing  But the things above were truly surprising.