Sunday, March 15, 2009

Writing Organically

It seems nowadays you can't watch television, read a magazine or shop in a grocery store without seeing the words "organic" plastered in the typeface of ads. Personally, I like the organic products in my local store. Being able to pick up a package and recognize every ingredient is comforting in the age of fillers and preservatives. Simple, fresh and real tastes pretty damn good if you ask me. So, how do we apply this same back-to-basics approach to food to our writing? Glad you asked.

It might, at first, seem like a wide divide between the two topics, but not if you look at the growth of a story from that first kernel of an idea to its final product. We writers start with a few little seeds and sprinkle liberal amounts of love and concern. We talk to our characters to nurture growth. We weed out the bad parts. Apply fertilizer where appropriate. All this helps to let the story build naturally to its conclusion.

Pushed characters and situations never flourish. An editor or agent will look at the plot points and know on sight that the writer manipulated the prose to do what they wanted, not what the story demanded, or characters needed. We've all read books where we've come across a situation we consider unbelievable in the context of what we know about the character because of what's come before. That kind of red flag is a signpost that the writer didn't let the story grow naturally, that the actions of the characters were forced.

Writing organically is easy to do if you listen to the rhythm of the story, the natural progression of the characters' growth.



Sierra Wolfe said...

Great post, Kate. What a novel idea, organic writing. I've never thought about it, but it's true. You can tell when someone has forced the direction of a story.

Mark Alders said...

Wow! This is such a great thought provoking post. Excellent, Kate :-)

organic writing, hey! Mine's organic all the time...full of s**t! lol...kidding...



Tierney O'Malley said...

Mark! You are so freaking funny!LOL
Kate, your post is so awesome! You made me step back and think about my story. Are my characters growing naturally or are being manipulated. Man, your post is great.


MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott/Kate Davison said...

Thanks all. I'm always saying to CP's, mentees and contest entrants to let the plot progress naturally to let it unfold naturally. My first editor at Red Sage once told me "trust your plot." - though I heard it in my head as "trust the force, Luke." A year ago or so I started writing on judges sheets to think about the story organically, it was just one of those things you say on a judges form to get the point across. I liked it so much, I let it stick. Viola!


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