Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Lonely Doll

Hey Mark, Thanks for reminding me about Nurse Jackie -- blog topic for tomorrow!

Writers are good at usually very specific things -- characters or plot or dialogue or setting. It's hard to keep all the proverbial balls in the air. For a long time, I favored character development above all else. I wasn't so hot at dialogue, terrible at setting, and plot was a disaster. I didn't know how to make things happen. It should come as no surprise that my first story in undergraduate workshop was about a woman having a nervous breakdown. Her breakdown consisted of getting upset when people honked their horns at her and picking out dresses that looked like tents. Seriously. It was horrid. I had a few good lines. Much like one might find something of minimal value while going through the trash.

I got better at language, the only tool a writer has. I got better at endings, always a problem. Life is so shapeless -- hard to see where a situation begins or ends. Every once in a long while, we experience those moments of clarity where we know what's happening. But most of the time we only see in retrospect, i.e., We know in part, we prophecy in part . . . Consider the relentless MJ coverage. Most of it seeks to understand whether he was an abused boy, a misunderstood genius, a pedophile with a lot of money, a legend. The facts remain the same, but the shaping is important. What to put in, what to leave out. Where we find value or fault. Writers have it tough sometimes, but we also have it pretty good. As Winston Churchill said, "I know history will be kind to me, for I will write it."

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Once there was a little doll. Her name was Edith. She lived in a nice house and had everything she needed except somebody to play with. She was very lonely!" Dare Wright, The Lonely Doll

Cocktail Hour
Detroiters' Alert: Reading by Meg Cabbott at Barnes and Noble -- see Walking Man for details!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! Still working on e-mails and other stuff. Thanks for being so patient!


Scott said...


How writers we can shape and create solid beginnigns and ends to things, but Life doesn't always draw such well-defined lines, as it were.

Speaking of dolls, nice pic. :)

-p.s.-Do they really raise the dead at that place in the pic? :)

Anonymous said...


jodi said...

Hi Hon, loved the insight into your process. Cute pic! xo

chris said...

Hi Michelle. I am still out here,hot as hell today and working on the house. Catch you later.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've gotten better at plot and dialogue over the years but it still doesn't come naturally.

Anonymous said...

A man ran the wrong way in Pamplona and was gored in the neck and lung.--Wrong Way Corrigan

the walking man said...

I just keep on churning,
I like the foam byproduct of the propellers movement; it kicks the stink of the sea
up to inhabit my nose
and takes me through the olfactory to places yet unvisited.

I likes me some poetry better than somes characters, plots and intrigues.

Dave said...

I was amused when reading Stephen King's On Writing when he said that plot (the story) is most important. I have always regarded plotting as King's greatest weakness: he just blows everything up in the end! (The Overlook burns; Derry floods; Las Vegas blows up in a nuclear holocaust; etc.) His great strength is his characterization: you really care about his 'people'. (Danny, run! That thing is not your father! Loser's Club, don't go down into the sewer! Stay away from Flagg, you guys!)

I believe that the greatest gift an author can have is the ability to make you love someone who doesn't exist. That's why the Bible is the Greatest Story Ever Told...

jimmorgan said...

Thanks for this, Michelle.

I've discovered that when trying to write fiction I get overwhelmed by the process so only one element ever gets developed well. Everything else seems to lose.

So I stick to writing about myself and that usually ends up with a very colorful character but a very weak plot ;-)


Whitenoise said...

I'd never read the Churchill line before. (Not to detract from your own points.)