Tuesday, September 23, 2008

long time, no ramble

Hello all, I'm back and going to be trying to update this blog more frequently. For anyone who was wondering, yes, I've got my agent. Matt Bialer at SJGA. His wonderful assistant Lindsay scooped me out of the slush pile, which just goes to show it's all true: you don't need to know anyone to get an agent, you just need a book that can get their attention.

My book (which duh, I've never actually named on this blog), The Spirit Thief, is an adventure fantasy about a wizard thief who can sweet talk anything, the wizard cop on his trail, and the kingdom teetering on the edge of destruction because he can't keep his hands to himself. Right now it's sitting in an ever growing number of editor inboxes, and I'm trying to write a new book (trying is the operative word in that sentence).

I was moping over my foibles with book 3 when my husband quoted me something interesting off his blog-reader, "Story is the study of relationships over time." This goes along with the realization Sarah Monette gave me years ago, that story is different from plot.

I've always been an exceedingly plot driven writer. Plot and world always come first, then characters. How interesting, then, that the novel that actually won my agent started with the characters, or, more specifically, one character, Eli.

Eli is the main character of the Spirit Thief. There are many other characters in the book, some of whom I love so dearly, but it was always Eli's show (I only actually made up the title during the second draft, before that it was just "the Eli Novel.")

I don't have an Eli for my next novel, and it shows. In the Spirit Thief, I barely scratched the surface of real story telling, where the characters stop being plot devices and stand up to speak for themselves. If I'm going to make this happen again, I have to start with characters, because the characters are the story, not the world, not the plot. Plot without story is a hollow shell, and story is characters reacting with themselves and each other.

This is my discovery. Like so many other truths of writing, millions of writers have discovered it before me, but that means nothing. True understanding could only be gained by discovering it for myself.

Maybe now I can really start writing.


cindy said...

WOW! congratulations! i'd nearly given up on your blog. congrats on being found in the slush pile and landing such a great agent! my first novel is more plot driven, too. i'm trying to really expand on characters in my sequel--we'll see if i can manage it.

Rachel said...

I bet you can! I wish I could just write the sequel to The Spirit Thief. That would be much less depressing than staring something new again.

Good luck, Cindy! (and thanks for sticking with my blog :D)