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Monday, February 17, 2014

Writers Group

It was kind of a go-go-go day without much time to draw, so I sketched a couple members of my writers group while we talked about The Problem of Plot.

The trouble with plot is that for lots of us, it's hard to do. And for those of us who write fiction, it's necessary to have some handle on it. Some of us get into writing because we love reading and want to create the experience of story and we love words and playing with them. And so we think we'll write a short story or a novel, or even an essay. And eventually, stuff has to happen.

I am here to tell you, it's possible to write a whole lot of words without much happening. I've done it.

So anyway, we have to learn to tackle the plot beast, which is what we talked about tonight. And tackling the plot beast is a lot like tackling the making-an-illustration beast. When it comes right down to it, we have to take a cattle prod to the ol' imagination. It's fun, but it's work. And it can be sometimes work that isn't that much fun, in the moment, though when it's all done it should look like it was easy and we just pulled this great story out of our ear. But yeah, the great story (or image) might be the 19th thing we tried. And we might be so exhausted by then that we don't even recognize whether it's any good.

Sometimes I think I got away from writing fiction and into art because I thought art might be an easier mode of expression. It isn't. It's just as hard to do good art as it is to write a good story -- and vice versa. In the end, no matter which kind of story you're trying to tell, it probably involves making a bit of a mess, then cleaning it up. It is impossible to avert the mess-making stage.

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