Literary, or Light?
I’m thinking about two articles I’ve read with regard to character and plot. One, from the New York Times on Monday, January 27, 2017, discusses a conversation between Lena Dunham and the actor who plays a sexual predator in Girls. I haven’t seen the show they’re talking about, and rarely watch tv, truth be told. But I was fascinated by the fact that Lena, as the writer, had a conversation with the actor who plays a sexual predator in order to get a bead on the character of that episode.
Dunham says that she could only express her own rage through the character of the predator, whose motivation for sexual predation was anger, not sexual need. I love that the two discussed the psychology of the character, and want to spend more time thinking and talking about the psychology of my characters, Charlotte and Theo. Like an actor, I need to get into character, to try to create, for myself, back story and motivation, for my fictional children.
The second article I am pondering is from the New York Times Book Review of Sunday, February 26, 2017: What Happens Next or Doesn’t) by Marisa Silver. Silver mentions a book, Plotto, published in 1928 by William Wallace Cook, which “purports to be an exhaustive breakdown of what might be every possible plot on earth.” Silver traces the evolution of the novel from a plot driven narrative told around an ancient hearth to the more ruminative modern novel in which a single consciousness carries the narrative. The plot driven books keep the pages turning, for most people. They are the bread and butter of the industry, the romance novels, the mysteries. They are looked down on as not “literary” by many.
My own debut novel is a beach read, I’m told, which is not a bad thing. But I had wanted it to express my values, and I did strive to utilize my own background as a former English teacher. As I continue the saga of Ms. Murphy’s Makeover in my sequel, Charlotte’s Mess, I’m working out the psychological struggles of my characters, Charlotte, Theo, and Valerie, by plumbing the depth of my own issues and those of the people I know well. If you’ve read and liked the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts about my “people.”