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Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The morning has barely broken and already several people have e-mailed me to point out that Nick Lowe's original essay The Well-Tempered Plot Device, is online.

(Rereading it, it's interesting what he, as a critic grumbles about, is stuff that I, as an author, when I read the article 18 years ago, looked at and went "Oh, that's useful, I'll remember that" which was probably not his intention at all.)

One person has written to ask if I'll be writing the book about Beppo the Clown. No, that was merely an example.

Re: your journal entry on 22 October about "the cliches of Fantasy" - my question (rhetorical in my case, I suppose) is, isn't that sort of thing the reason most people READ Fantasy? Isn't that what they want and expect to read, variations on the theme of The Heroic Journey with the protagonist growing and finding out more about herself along the way? Or is it just me? I almost feel like apologizing for my tastes now, but if I didn't ENJOY that sort of thing I wouldn't be READING Fantasy books.

Then you are the perfect reader of Diana Wynne Jones's TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND. The people who don't know and love the cliches will not get all the jokes.

(I wasn't really talking about cliches. I was trying to explain, expand and expound on the concept of plot coupons for the people who felt I'd not been very clear about them when talking about the Victoria Walker books, and found myself doing a gentle parody as I typed because it was fun to type. And there's stew in STARDUST.)

And about fifty people have asked me to plug, or just wanted to know what I thought, about National Novel Writing month. The object of which is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, on which getting to the finish line is more important than the content. I think it's a great idea -- anything that makes people who want to be writers write is a good idea. It's too easy to let your life slip away, convinced that all you need to be a writer is an idea. In reality, what you need to do is put one word after the other until you're done, with all the work and pain and triumph involved.

Chuck Jones told would be artists to draw, explaining that "you've got a million bad drawings inside you and the sooner you get them out, the better". Raymond Chandler is reputed to have told would be authors that they have a million words of crap to get out of their system. And in both cases there's a lot of truth there -- if only because it allows you to keep going despite your technical limitations and inability to get the words or the pen to do what you want, and eventually find yourself, well, competent. And some of the words and pictures you turn out on the way can be pretty good too.
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