I stumbled on an article about questions most asked of a writer. Surprised? Sort of. I know that if I had a chance to sit down with John LeCarre, James Lee Burke, Margaret Atwood — insert the name of any famous writer of your choice — I wonder what three questions I would ask. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the first two questions.
THREE (3) QUESTIONS MOST ASKED
- HOW – LONGHAND/TYPE/COMPUTER
- WHEN – MORNING/NOON/NIGHT?
- WHERE DO THE IDEAS COME FROM?
THE FIRST TWO DEAL WITH PROCESS
- IS CURSIVE A DEAD LANGUAGE?
A young writer came up to me after a workshop and asked me if I could read cursive. I said, “I’m quite fluent.” He told me his goal was to keep cursive alive.
You may find one in a museum. I have one for display. After all I did write a novel about a typewriter, a Remington. I purchased a 1937 Remington typewriter online. My winning bid was $17. The shipping cost $54. But it does make a dandy display.
- TIME OF DAY? Anytime an idea needs to be put on paper, morning, noon or night. Each writer has an individual writing rhythm, but who hasn’t thrown back the covers at 3AM to start writing longhand, pecking at the typewriter or computer keyboard.
THE THIRD, WHERE IDEAS COME FROM, SPEAKS TO THE CREATIVE PROCESS:
I can’t speak for others. But it has led to some sprightly discussions with my writerly friends.
I’ve written before that I believe in Plot Bunnies. They are insidious little creatures that nip at my heels when I’m getting out of bed. I’ve spotted them along the highway. I’ve seen their shape in clouds. Once bitten, I’m compelled to tug at the vague idea of the story they tease me with. If you don’t believe me about plot bunnies, just Google it.
The vague idea of a story needs a story teller. That leads to developing a host of characters, some major, some minor.
Who doesn’t like a hero or heroine facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles. If that means an evil doer, it’s great fun to imagine one. Other characters serve minor roles, but that doesn’t mean they are unimportant.
The plot turns all that loose. It might be the crisis to crisis to crisis speed of a Ludlum novel. It might be a story that unfolds, prying the layers of the story away like the peels of an onion. That can be found in a La Carre novel.
If you had a chance to sit down with a great author, what would you ask?