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Monday, February 09, 2009

Why writing a novel is just like being Indiana Jones - complete with whip!

I'm not talking about Temple of Doom or The Last Crusade or that recent one that I heard was lame and haven't even seen yet. I'm talking about the original, the incomparable, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Because writing is kind of like archaeology, with a whole lot of maverick raider moves thrown in. You have to identify the goal. Uncover the secrets - though if you're lucky, some other people might even help you (kissing optional). You have to make the connections among all of the pieces you started with and whatever is in front of you as you painstakingly brush your way through the first draft. And if you are dilligent (and brave and inventive and a little bit crazy), you will find what you are looking for: the ultimate treasure, a novel that works.

Even if you happen to find yourself in the snake pit (as well you sssssshould...), you get to show your true mettle and write your way through it - not by sidestepping in ridiculous ways (I'm talkin' to you, recent TV end-of-season cliffhangers), but by facing the danger, being creative, and coming up with a vivid, satisfying solution. Sidestepping might get you out of the snake pit, but it will never get you to the treasure. (By the way, I'll take slithers over stings any day.)

Now about that whip...yeah, you get one, but the only person you can really use it on is yourself. But you have to use it, otherwise you're going to be dead in the water, stuck on a blank page one. So get cracking already.

As for the hat? Well, it kind of looks dorky on anybody but the real dude. See?

1 comment:

  1. Ha! That is so true Holly, writing does seem to be a lot like archaeology! Great metaphor... I love the image of the whip to get one going!