Anatomy of a Good Book

One of my fears about my current novel is that it will become a string of anecdotes that would hopefully reach a crescendo and then a conclusion. The whole concept of plotting out the story is intimidating, and always was when I was writing screenplays.

In many of the chick lit books whose category I am trying to avoid, the story does revolve around a series of anecdotes. However, in some of the more literary novels I’ve enjoyed, the number of anecdotes is relatively small and do not always appear in chronological order.

In Tom Perrotta’s The Abstinence Teacher, the story literally shifts every few paragraphs to the evening before. I don’t necessarily think that is a great idea, but it works. And I am still reading the novel.

I can see that a lot of writing goes into details (specific is terrific) and the thoughts of the characters, and hwo something may trigger a memory. The not necessarily relevant detail helps paint a vivid picture of the scene and the characters.

Once I finish scribbling down the bones of my story, which is not terribly far off, although I confess it has been a few days too many without writing, then i just need to color in the lines, fill in the details. Somehow this information gives me a great deal more confidence. Knowing my story does not need this massive plot but can focus on more subtle developments is liberating.

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