John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey
the_gneech

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Plot(z)

There are a lot of things to admire about Wodehouse, but it occurred to me today, as laurie_robey and I rode along listening to Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, that what I admire most about him from a "writing craft" point of view, is his ability to turn his cotton-candy-silliness into real stories -- that is, to give them an actual plot.

I have nothing but trouble with plot, myself. I can come up with interesting characters, turn the occasional phrase, and bubble along with an entertaining narrative, but I have a rotten time coming up with what actually happens. Part of my goal with the Fictionlets has been (get ready for the big reveal!) to teach myself to find a story in all these little bits and pieces. You'll find (I hope) that most of the Fictionlets, should you decide to go back and read them, are designed to work as stand-alone pieces, as well as being chunks of a larger whole. A few of them build directly on others, but most of them can be read in isolation without losing that much. They each have a beginning, middle, and end, even if some of the smallest ones move so quickly from item to item that if you blink you'll miss it.

The big problem comes when I start to look at a larger storyline. I have one idea for a Brigid and Greg novel which I think is a viable one, but it's really more of a sketch than a whole story. I have a good premise, several usable scenes, and an ending I particularly like, but the problem is that most of the middle of the idea is "SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENS HERE."

I'm not entirely sold on the idea as a launching point, either; one of the people I bounced it off of said it would make a good "second or third B&G book" but he wasn't so sure about it being a first, and he may be on to something with that -- but on the other hand, as far as potentially novel-length stories go, it's the only idea I've got at the moment.

"Just as well, Gneech," you may be saying to yourself, "'cause you need to be focusing on those comic strips of yours as it is." Well, yes, you have a point. But the thing is, besides being a cartoonist, I also want to be a novelist, if for no other reason that there is an actual chance slightly better than a snowball's in hell of making a living that way. But there'll be no living made if there are no novels written, so I need to stop mucking around and get serious about it. (I am also, let's be honest here, praised a lot more often for my writing than I ever am for my art. The art is serviceable, but it's the writing that people come for.)

So that's where my mind is right now, furiously multitasking on several things and not making a lot of headway on any of them, but in particular banging my head on the brick wall of "Yes, but what HAPPENS?" I sometimes feel like what I need is for some enterprising partner to hand me an outline and say "Go for it!" But I suspect that anybody I might know who could do such a thing, wouldn't particularly want to -- on top of which, I'm such a control freak that I doubt I would take it anyway.

Feh! Artistic neurosis is a hard thing to live with, let me tell you!

-The Gneech
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