Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vertical words

This will be weird.

Lately, plot points are coming into my head in a new way.

The photo above is the closest I am able to come to illustrating what it is.

Here's how it seems to work, using yesterday as an example: I had already written a scene. Yesterday, I rewrote it. I thought it was finished, but I still wasn't totally sure why it was in the book. It seemed a kind of. . .departure. Then, on the drive home, a sentence fell vertically into my mind. That's exactly how it feels/seems. The sentence was something like, "He thinks she lured him away so people could hurt his family while he was gone." It was an aha for that scene and it explained why it is in the book, something I didn't know before that vertical sentence dropped out of the blue.

One more thing: the vertical sentences drop into the very center of my head, and there is a little physical sensation. If I could move that silver thing further to the middle of the photo, I would, to give you the correct impression.

Told ya it would be weird.


Nancy P said...

Seymour the velociraptor has a hard time with fiction. He prefers crunchy facts.

What crunchy things do you like?

(Hersey Kisses with Almonds.)

AndiF said...

Hmmm, I think this is the image I would have chosen [LINK].

Snyder's Multigran Pretzel Sticks.
Szechuan Bean Curd Stir Fry.

Morning all and happy almost weekend (and even happier end to packing to Beth).

paul lamb said...

Not weird at all. I get that kind of epiphany all the time. It seems likely that your subconscious was working on the plot point while you were busy living life.

Personally, I take these kinds of things as gifts. I'm afraid if I try to hard to understand them, I will kill the creativity behind whatever the mechanism is.

Coincidentally, I have a post coming up today in which I trace the origin of a minor motif I plan to use in a story.

Anonymous said...

Morning folks! I know what you mean, Nancy and Paul - I'm just thankful that whatever gods sent the idea, did it. And am even more glad that we're the happy recipients of Nancy's vertical words (or will be!).

Good pic, andi - it DOES explain it!

Lime-flavored tortilla chips.

Have a great weekend, everyone - I'll be back as I can. The end is in sight!

Nancy P said...

Actually, Andi,that's close, if there were just one row of blocks.

Not a pretzel fan, but maybe Snyder's could change my mind. Loove crunch bean curd.

Maria Lima said...

I love those "aha" moments! Oftentimes, they come to me in the car, too. :)

Morning all - still sniffly and cruddy and home from work today. Less need to sleep - I ended up sleeping most of the day yesterday with a couple of lucid moments.

re: crunchy: baked pita chips, kettle corn (both from Trader Joe's)

Nancy P said...

It's different though, somehow, than it's ever been before for me, Paul and Beth. Or else I'm more attuned to the physical feel of it than I used to be. That's possible. It's a feeling of insertion into my brain, like somebody dropped in a capsule.And I feel it in a very particular spot on/in my head.

Lime-flavored tortilla chips! A fav of my friend Sallhy, too. Me, I'd make it plain chips plus lime-flavored gin and tonic. :)

Nancy P said...

Baked pita chips! Kettle corn! This is shaping up to be a delicious crunchy day at the coffee shop.

Ach, Maria, be well.

I should emphasize again that it's not the epiphany that's changed, it's the manner of its arrival. Next time you get one, check out the physical feel of it and report back. :D

AndiF said...

OTOH, enlightenment can arrive on the horizontal. [LINK]

FARfetched said...

I'm with Paul, in that the subconscious is working on things while you do the heavy lifting. I don't think trying to understand it will kill the creativity, though… I think they come from somewhere that the human mind isn't capable of understanding, so it's safe.

Thanx for the the support yesterday, all. Kelly, thanks for the idea, but I can't help thinking bumping off a 12-year-old girl over some poetry is a bit churlish, even if she's a fictional character. Sounds like a WWSKD (What Would Stephen King Do?) moment.

Nancy P said...

Andi, that's adorable.

Morning, Far! Oh, I don't think there's anything scary about it at all. I love it. I'm grateful. Could indeed be my subconscious--that's what I've always believed--but I don't actually know that, so I'm open to aliens. :) Although, who knew they liked mysteries?

Far, what's your crunchy goodness? I'm guessing it's not fried chicken.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe it is, Nancy - you know, revenge and all that. :-)

katiebird said...

Hi Nancy,

What you describe happens to me (luckily) all the time. I have ideas for what to write but 5 or 6 possible thesis sentences are flying around fighting for power.

Then I go for a walk and just as you describe, a sentence (or phrase) falls right in front of me and all the other sentences align around it.

Since it usually happens when I'm walking, I have to memorize the sentence (chanting it in my mind) until I get home.

I think I like your illustration of the event more than Andi's this time. Andi's would work if you could see some movement. If Tetrus was an Ice Nine sort of thing maybe.

Andi, I was just playing Tetrus! I have it on my cell phone and yester I played it while waiting in the car for mister.

(Waving) Hi Paul, Beth, Maria & FAR! -- Oh, and Nancy & Andi of course :)

paul lamb said...

I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the whole world who has read it, but Julian Jayne's book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (really, it exists!) posits that the ancients didn't have what we would call consciousness and when their subconscious spoke to them in this same way, they thought they were being spoken to by gods.

Kelly McCullough said...

Nancy, that's a lot like how I feel when I dream plot--someone's found a bunch of stuff I need and stuffed it into my head for me. Though it's a more horizontal thing for me, as though someone had hammered through the back of my skull to write the sentence on the inside of my forehead where I can read it by looking up.

Beth, good luck with the move.

FARf, you don't have to bump _her_ off, you just need to make sure she understands that the next character to meet with an unfortunate literary accident could be her;-) That actually sounds much more brutal than my process actually is. I tend to just fire the character and hire a new one who will do all the stuff the last one did except for the thing that irritates me.

Maria, hope you feel better soon.

Andi, what a cutie!

KB, I call that plot walking and do it often when I'm stuck.

Paul, I haven't read the Jayne book but I think I've got a copy of it around here somewhere, it was once one of my mother's favorite books.

Lisa Miller said...

Love the picture.

Everyone talks about such cool thinking processes.

My Ah Ha moments just seem to light up whole in my brain.
More like a neon sign.

Andif I am surrounded by 2 cats and 2 dogs in that same horizonal position. I envy them their ability to let it all go.

Beth--walk towards the light at the end of the tunnel. A new life awaits.

A fabulous Friday to all.
I've got to go rummaging in the kitchen for something crunchy.

FARfetched said...

LOL, yes, eating chicken (a genetic descendant of T.rex, remember) is part vengeance and part nutrition. But my favorite crunchy goodness is honey-roasted peanuts.

KB, I set one of the "shortcut" keys (the arrow keys) on my phone to fire up the audio recorder. If there's something I want to remember, I just have to push two buttons & start yapping. [Of course, I have to remember to look at the recordings later. You could do the same thing with voice mail.]

For really short bits of text, there's Jott ( - call the number, speak clearly (up to 30 seconds), and it emails you the text. It can also send reminders.

FARfetched said...

Good idea, Kelly. She'll take her final bow in a few episodes, now that I think of it, so it's all good.

Anonymous said...

OOOO. Does it hurt? The physical sensation when one of those things in the picture drops in?? Ouch.

Crunchy? Paul Newman's microwave popcorn (the original one), and nuts of most any kind.

I was awake at 3:00 A.M. thinking about a question I'd like to ask the writers in the group. I was reading a book when 1/2 through a main character did something totally out of character. I know, how could I know what's out of character when I only spend a couple of days with the characters and you writers spend months (?) with them. Anyway, it felt inauthentic and manufactured, and I totally lost interest in the story. So, the question I had was: why would a writer do that? is it just a device to move the plot along? was the writer just stuck and couldn't think of anything else? Totally ruined the book for me. (btw, this author has many books out and has been on the best seller list, so it wasn't a newbie.)

Thanks for any insight.

Anonymous said...

Oh, btw, cute pic, Andif.

Beth, let us know when the housewarming party is! :-D

Nancy P said...

Katiebird and Kelly, I love your descriptions of how it happens to you. Katie. . .the other sentences coalescing around it. And Kelly, horizontal!! And hammers!! But that's only because we writers can be so blockheaded sometimes that our muses have to resort to desperate measures.

Nancy P said...

Anonymous, you've given me my post for tomorrow, thank you kindly.

If anybody wants to answer Anon's question, please do it in the next thread. Thanks!

Night, all.