Thursday, October 16, 2008


Magic. That's right, magic. Specifically, the magic that turns a story into a Story.

I'm sure other writers will testify to this, we agonize over the characters -are they realistic, likable; plot -does it make any sense? does it flow? is it exciting?; would this word work better than that one?

In the course of writing Molly and John's story, I've probably written near 500k words and I can recall every scene perfectly. We obsess! No doubt about it. Every writer I know cares deeply about their work. And yet, some stories fail, fall flat. But why? Well, as they say, if I truly knew, I'd be rich.

But as I'm sitting here, my daughter is watching Enchanted -a movie that ought to suck, mean really, a movie about a nitwit storybook princess plopped down in NYC? But it doesn't! There is something about the movie that transcends the goofy plot, over the top acting, and general unbelievability of it. There is something that comes through that makes me enjoy it. Frankly, I think the actors and crew enjoyed themselves. Joy, passion, love, these things are infectious.

But back to books. How many times have we as writers been hacking away at a story and just not feeling it? And consequently, our stories suffer. Any time I view writing my story as a job -and I'm not talking about editing because that IS a job, the scene falls flat. It is amazing to me, but when I sent out my wip for the first beta read, my readers found fault with all the 'work horse' scenes, the ones I labored over instead of letting flow and enjoying when I wrote them. Reader know. They always do. Writing is more than putting down words, it is feeling. A story isn't just about having something to say; it is a communication of feeling.

Think of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I loved that book, couldn't put it down. But in truth, half the time I was thinking, why am I reading this? Nothing is happening. But the passion that lived in those characters, the passion that Meyer's had for the world she created grabbed hold of me and refused to let go. To me, that is the magic of Twilight.

If you don't' feel that passion, magic, whatever you want to call it, when crafting your story, if you don't feel that giddy high, akin to falling in love (even if you're writing a terrorizing thriller), then I'd take a step back and think hard if what you're writing is the story you really want to write.

I'm not saying that a writer can't create a great story without feeling that passion, but I believe that without passion, that story isn't going to be Magic. Passion = magic.



Rachel said...

Good to see your blog! (g)

I completely agree. Those first draft scenes that lack that certain frisson of passion can end up being plain old clunky. Hard to harness that energy all the time, but it really is that magic ingredient. And your book has it in spades.

Kristen said...

Aw, Thanks Rach!

And you've got a point; talking about passion is a lot easier than harnessing it!