Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Interesting Information Along The Journey
But I digress. The book, Butcher's Moon, contains a new foreword by Lawrence Block, who was both friend and colleague to Westlake. Block describes Westlake telling him he was writing what he called "narrative push." He sort of got the ball rolling to see where it would take him. Nowadays we call that SOP (seat of the pants) plotting. As further explanation, Block quotes Theodore Sturgeon, who said that if the writer doesn't know what's going to happen next, the reader certainly can't. Since I've written four novels using this technique, I applauded Sturgeon--whoever he was--and decided to look further.
Although Wikipedia isn't always accurate, it's generally fun. And Wikipedia told me that Theodore Sturgeon was a prolific science-fiction writer, including Star Trek episodes, as well as ghost-writing one of the best Ellery Queen mysteries. From there, it took me to Sturgeon's Law, which essentially says that "90% of science fiction is crud--but, then again, 90% of everything is crud."
Is there a moral to this story? I think so. I learned that my writing method isn't "SOP," it's "narrative push." I discovered that Theodore Sturgeon came up with the Vulcan hand sign popularized on Star Trek. And I realized that it's possible to get way off track when doing online research. But it's sure fun.
Have you had any similar experiences of wandering away when doing research? Want to share?