Monday, September 24, 2007

Go deep, or go home

It's a saying between my diver group of friends. "Go deep or go home." And it's not what you think. It's not a macho statement of going deep underwater. To break some record perceived or real. It's about living life as deeply as possible. It's a Whitman-like "barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world."

Really, it's about living life to the fullest. Overcoming the inherent fear that resides in us all. In everything we do. In everything we touch. In everything we create.

I had an agent tell me once that the biggest problem he had with first time authors is that they told safe stories. That they didn't take chances. That they colored within the lines. They were boring story tellers.

So...are you playing it safe? Are you staying within the lines? Is your story boring?

I want to hear that barbaric yawp! I want you to scream it from the rooftops!
Go deep or go home....


G.M. Malliet said...

I dunno, Mark. That second photo looks pretty macho to me.

I don't think I'm playing it safe, tho. Even writing "traditional cozies," I find there are a lot of ways to just have fun with a genre that one might think has been done to pieces already.

I do see writers trying too hard to be original, which can be much worse. Authors who seem to focus on coming up with new and awful ways to kill people, for example - this is not my idea of original writing.

Mark Terry said...

Sometimes I think this means, dig deeper to find the emotional core of your story.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great post, Mark. And a challenge to us all, though I agree with g.m. that some authors mistake shock value for creative originality. To me, it's not how the victim was killed, but why; it's about the people, not the method. Mark T. hit the nail on the head with the "emotional core" of the story. That's where we need to dig.

Mark Combes said...

GM and Sue Ann~

The question is more rhetorical than pointed. Question everything you put down on paper. Can you make it better? What if the OPPOSITE happened instead? How does that change the story? Better? Worse? Writing is a conscious thing - not random words spread across the page. Be brave in your choices. Walk to the edge, look down. Then step off into the abyss...

Felicia Donovan said...

To build a successful series, I think you have to have characters that are sustainable. They must be flawed, human, fallible.

A plot is a plot is a plot. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. A character, however, has motivation, jealousy, secrets harbored, a quest to make things right or wrong, fear, humor, humility, ethics or lack thereof.

That's the "go deep" that sells books.

spyscribbler said...


Mark Combes said...

I second Spyscribbler's "Amen" and everyone else's focus on character. Be bold and brave with your choices with your CHARACTERS.

Give your characters glorious incongruities.

When was the last time you surprised yourself with your OWN writing?

As you all might be guessing, I'm struggling through my own second (third, fourteenth?) draft and I'm questioning everything. It's my process. Sorry to inflict my self-flagellation on you all.