These might be the two scariest words in all of history.
Imagine you’re Harry Potter and Professor McGonagall asks you to explain why you just flew a Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow.
Or, imagine you’re Richard Cypher (Rahl) and Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander (First Wizard of all the Midlands AND your grandfather) asks you what insanity has brought you to dig up the dry white bones of the Mother Confessor.
Explain yourself indeed!
Recently I was in a situation where I had to explain The Plotters of Cantaera to someone. They already knew a little about the story but they were digging for more: plot, story arc, symbolism, iconography.
I felt like I had been thrust suddenly into a one minute pitch session at a conference with a surly agent who I just knew was going to reject me -- to my face. Point blank. Without a second thought. He was picking his fingernails and belching up pieces of the bratwurst/limburger/onion sandwich he’d had for lunch and every second word I got out he would parrot “And the theme is...?” And me, I just wanted to bolt face first into the nearest corner like a mouse with its cheese hiding where I could nibble the cheddar in peace...
Whoa! Sorry about that... I got a little carried away with a flashback there.
I’m back now. In my safe place.
Nothing is real... nothing is real...
So anyway there I was trying very hard to explain to this person what The Plotters is about... digging for that hidden gem of information to use as a symbol, as icon for the entire story.
I gotta say... THAT was a good... nay... that was a GREAT experience!
Do you know what this made me do?
It forced me to LOOK at the story from a perspective of the reader very different than normal... a perspective that perhaps is overlooked.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
As a writer it is my solemn duty to have done the deed well enough that I HAVE considered the story from the perspective of the reader.
Of COURSE we do that... right, other authors? All you fellow guys and gals and #plotters who I know read this blog looking for the little tidbits of wisdom I hide so perfectly that most of you will never find them? Hmm? Do you see the little nuggets, the Easter Eggs filled with candy hidden on the screen of the game that most typical gamers will just glide right by?
Do you see it? Do you? Well, do you???!!!
Actually it’s not that hard.
Consider your most favorite and treasured book.
Now, think about all the COOL things you think/feel/experience when you read that book. All the objects, the iconography, the symbols, the tactile visual imagery that so grabs you as you peruse the pages of that particular prose.
Now... what have you placed in YOUR story that YOU are writing that will do those same things to YOUR readers?
Ahhhh... now do you get it?
Do you now see what your task is?
Get to it.
You WILL be graded.