Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Candy Whistle and the Same Old Song

I was trolling through Twitter a few weeks ago and stumbled across someone's home page full of tweets shared among agents and editors in the business. I didn't notice which publishing houses or agencies they worked for, but what I did notice was their string of complaints.

Yes, complaints.

The thing they complained about was other people's writing. Ew. Fer rude. It scared me.

I stared at the words horrified and decided I really don't want to be fodder for Tweets of Terror.

I'd forgotten about it when I posted yesterday, but the complaints related directly to what I was thinking and writing about then: THE RULING PASSION of the main characters in the manuscripts on their desks, and the fact that the passions were not strong enough or focused enough.

Specifically, several groaned about this: Curiosity is NOT a strong enough driving passion.

At the time, I think I felt a sense of relief at that, since my character's passion isn't curiosity, so the relief sent the thoughts out of my mind, but since I've been editing and going over this concern mentally, I can see how this could grow moldy for an agent or assistant editor digging through the slush pile all day.

Which reminds me. I love Slush Puppies. They have really good pebble ice. Give me the blue raspberry. Make the edge of my upper lip and my tongue dark blue.

Cherry is nice, too. I wouldn't pass on that.

But I have to remember that the key to getting past the slush pile (and not in the trash pile) is to make sure the driving passion of the main character is something OTHER than or MORE COMPELLING than curiosity.

I guess Alice in Wonderland is a been there, done that concept.

Since I don't have my own Slush Puppie machine here at Griffith Central (yet. Maybe after I sell my bestseller. Ha.), I had to settle for one of these. They're surprisingly DELICIOUS. Pomegranate is only 70 calories. Yeah, the 120 calorie coconut is fabulous, too, possibly even 50 calories *more* fabulous. Sigh.

However, I don't think the PASSION or the GOAL has to be earth shattering. Sure, if it's a sci fi or thriller plot, the goal is often to SAVE THE WORLD AND ALL MANKIND. That's great. However, if all that involves is a bunch of car chases and stuff blowing up, and the characters don't really, really care, neither will the readers.

However, if the character cares about even the lamest thing (I'm thinking about a stupid movie I got cajoled into seeing unwittingly by my Norwegian roommate back in my less movie-aware days) like going across the country to be in a drag queen parade to meet an aging starlet, then the reader might even care about the stupidest thing in the world.

Perhaps not a great example. I guess I never did get to caring about that. Ick. But take the TV show Glee for instance. Very popular. (I saw a couple of episodes, I'll admit.) Their goal isn't to save the world. It's to save the Glee Club. But that show has a huge following because the characters have a goal. They CARE about it deeply.

So, just playing that same tune again today. It might sound more delicious if it were being played on ... a Candy Whistle. Remember those? Watermelon. That was the best. Melody Pops. Great name for a candy.