So now I am getting back to Symphonians again. Alas I discovered I must do more work. Here, look at this Anne Tyler interview.
(And it's rare for her to give interviews, so read closely.)
But what I love about Anne's stories are her characters. "Grownups" is my favorite book of hers, mainly because the characters are so amazing. The first chapter is hard to get through because you're meeting them all at once, but after that it's much easier.
Look at what she says about the way she writes:
I spend about a year between novels. My decision to start a new one is just that, a decision, since I never get inspirations. I'll say, "It's time I stopped lolling about. I'd better think something up." Then for a month or so I'll jot down desperate possibilities. "Maybe I could write about a man who does such-and-such. Or wait: I think I already did that. Well, then maybe about that woman I saw in the grocery the other day. What was she up to, exactly? What might her story have been?"
Eventually, one of these possibilities will start flowering in my mind, and I'll manufacture what's initially a very trumped-up, artificial plot. I'll write maybe one long paragraph describing the events, then a page or two breaking the events into chapters, and then reams of pages delving into my characters. After that, I'm ready to begin.
And she also says this:
I do write long, long character notes—family background, history, details of appearance—much more than will ever appear in the novel. I think this is what lifts a book from that early calculated, artificial stage. One day, around chapter 2 or 3, I'll be slogging through some dialogue and all of a sudden a character says something that makes me laugh. Where did that come from? I'm not funny! Then another will flatly refuse the plot contrivance I've designed for him. I'll write a scene this way, write a scene that way; it slows to a crawl and stops. Finally, I say, "Oh, all right," and I drop the contrivance and the scene falls into place and I see a motive I'd never guessed and I understand where we're going. It's as if someone else is telling me the story. I don't want to say I hear voices; well, actually I do hear voices, but I don't think it's supernatural. I think it's just that when characters are given enough texture and backbone, then lo and behold, they stand on their own.
Reams of paper on her characters creates characters that live on the page, characters that drive the plot.
I have about six characters in Symphonians that I need to write character sketches about. So, my assignment is ... gulp ...
WRITE A FULL REAM ABOUT THE CHARACTERS IN SYMPHONIANS.
What! That's only 500 pages!
...okay, maybe I could like write on one side of the page and do 250 pages.
Oh, stop being such a wuss. You just want to write 10 pages on all the major characters and get out of the assignment. You want to write a kick-ass novel or not? You want to be like Anne Tyler? Then do the work. Over and out!
On the mental i-Pod: "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC