Thursday, October 1, 2009

Conversations: Spine and Form

Truth is an eternal conversation about things that matter, conducted with passion and discipline." ---Parker Palmer

Twitter conversations, on the other hand, are a confounding cacophony about things that matter, conducted with passion and almost no discipline! Yesterday's chat with my editor, Cheryl Klein, was like that, and yes, I enjoyed it tremendously (when my head wasn't spinning.) 

I did try to impose some order for you by posting a transcript here.  I would also like to share two of the questions Cheryl prepared for me in advance (most of which we never got close to getting to) and my answers.

Part of the reason I'm sharing this today is that Linda Urban (CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT, MOUSE WAS MAD) and I are having a nifty conversation about spine and form over on her blog. Linda initiated the back-and-forth, but I had also been thinking about some of the same stuff because of these two questions Cheryl asked me:
  • Cheryl: OPERATION YES has a unique structure that alternates two primary points of view through all of the first section (Plan A), then integrates them in Plan B, then spirals out through the world from there. Was this structure pre-planned? If not, how did it evolve? 

Sara:  I think I knew early on that this story was going to be carried by more than one character. After all, how can you write about the power of community through just one POV?

But in the book's beginning, Bo and Gari are focused on themselves, their own POV; it's only when they are jolted into thinking about the bigger picture that that spiraling out happens. And by the very, very end, even the reader of the book is invited to be part of the largest circle.

  • Cheryl: You use multiple points of view in certain sections throughout. This is generally regarded as a writing no-no. Why did it feel right or important for you to break the rule here? Did you set any new rules or guidelines for yourself in using this technique? 

Sara: I don't think it's a no-no if you have a reason and a plan. I used the technique to build tension---see the food fight scene!---and to show the falling apart and then the widening of the circle of community, as each character turns from their own private battles to uniting in one mission together as a class.

Also, since the book's about the stage, the dramatic or cinematic viewpoint seemed like a natural fit.

I realize it was a risk to attempt this, but I trusted you as my editor to show me where it was working and where it wasn't. That's the only rule I had: does it serve the story?
  • More leftover questions will be posted next week!

1 comment:

  1. "I trusted you as my editor..."
    I love that line.
    It seems both wise and such a funny, funny relief...


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