Sinking the Ship.

I read a book once, giving advice on how to write a good detective story. The theme wasn’t really applicable to me at that stage, being more in a fantasy mood, but the advice the author gave stayed with me long after the author’s name disappeared from my mind.

He said that: Writing a book is like inviting people along on a cruise ship with you. Your first step is getting them onto the boat and making sure that they are still with you when you leave port. You must then take your passengers (readers) on a magnificent journey, showing them wonderful sights that they have never seen before, each experience leaving them begging for more. When they are happy and content and settled into your cruise, you have to take your boat and sink it.

A friend of mine wrote about The Quest for Emotionally Complex Moments, a topic which made me remember this piece of advice. I came to realize that this image of a boat, this idea of telling a story, giving the readers everything that they desire and then sinking the ship, was an approach that I loved to use. I loved the yank the proverbial pond out from underneath the duck. I believe that’s why I can’t really write comedy, why inevitably, angst, drama and desperation, find their way into my work. The fear, the terror and the surprise of a sinking ship is where I get my thrill. The key to this is emotion. Emotion is what drives the ship, what fuels your creativity and what plants the seeds of creativity. Emotion is an untameable force, begging for an outlet and whether it finds its outlet in music, books or movies, you know that if enough emotion is channelled into your story, you will get an explosive, anguish filled, breakingly beautiful journey.

One of my readers from The Touch of Green Fire once said (upon completion of the story):

I don’t know what to say, this story was just incredible, i swear to you that
everyday i was checking with hope of an update for this amazing story, i think
it was a journey and a dawn good one if i may say so, they were ups and downs
and a promise of a uncertain future, just like in real life, i certainly
appreciate very much this story and i can azure you that it has a special
place in my heart and in my knowledges, i will cherish this as long as i can
remember and when i forget i definitely would come back, cause a have learn
many things and i have found some answers…

 

In this review, summarized (and justified) more than a decade of my writing and the reason why I write.

Life.

In writing, I capture a bits of my life, bits of my emotion, bits of the world. The cruise, the travel of the plot, isn’t just an exploration of my character’s lives and their circumstances but also of mine. Their emotions are bits of mine, chiselled and worked in such a way that I can deal with it myself. Their questions are mine, the answers they receive ones that I have discovered through them, and through life sometimes.

The reason for this is because the author of the ‘How to’ book provided me with another piece of advice: When you have left your passengers to flounder around in the water, with no hope of being saved, throw them a life jacket and pull them aboard another vessel. You will have their gratitude, and loyalty forever.

For all the anguish in my stories, all the dark and desperate pain, there is also hope. And absolution, and answers if not the ones that you always want.

Because my friends, that is what I try to capture in my work, through emotion:

Hope. And Life. And inevitably, Love.

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3 thoughts on “Sinking the Ship.

  1. Aheïla July 13, 2010 / 6:24 pm

    I’m your friend, really? What a surprise! *laughs*
    I am just like you: I love to yank the goodness away from people. Count on me to steal the ice cream cone you’ve desired for hours on a hot summer day after you’ve taken one bite. *evil grin* In my stories, of course. I would NEVER do that in real life… much…

    • Alyssa July 13, 2010 / 7:03 pm

      LOL, a NaSty friend…
      I had a discussion with one of my readers the other day, where she said that she could not wait for me to do a particularly distressing thing to a character (kill her husband, whom she loves more than life itself). I confessed to not being able to wait until I wrote it…
      We then both paused and said together:
      What is wrong with us?!
      I love drama. I really do.

  2. Phil July 13, 2010 / 8:53 pm

    I can always count on you to do the bold thing with your characters or your story that will jolt the reader. Drawing them in, taking them along for the ride, and then shaking their universe, yeah, you do that well. 🙂

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