Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why write about WWII? - Part 2

Happy Friday! Well, soon anyway.

You know how, when you're with a really good friend and the conversation comes to a stop for a little while? But it's a comfortable silence, as opposed to the awkward kind? I like to think that my not posting for a few days is like that. It turns out that the silence was comfortable for me, and I felt no need to fill it (you know the type, right? can't stand two seconds of quiet?). No offense intended if you're that type . . .

The first World War II book I ever read was Up Periscope by Robb White. It was first published in 1956 and was later made into a movie starring James Garner. Raise your hand if you know who Garner is. :)  It was a Scholastic Reader book I bought with my allowance in the fifth grade (about 1962). No snickering, please. A couple of years ago, I was able to find a copy on Amazon and I reread it. It was quite fun. 

A couple of months before my first short story sale I knew, instinctively, that I would write about WWII. This was in the fall of 2003. I'd been mulling over ideas and settled on a character who would be in the army. My original plan was to then follow his life throughout the war, then on to the postwar years. Now, ten years and two books later (why it took so long is for another time) I'm sticking to that basic idea. The question arose as to who this guy would be, and I chose to make him a sergeant and a member of the new U.S. Army Rangers. 

Once I had that information, the rest came down to building his background, and then creating the story line, also known as the plot. When I'm working on a book, I use Excel to build the plot as opposed to a narrative outline. This works for me. 

Some writers swear they don't plot, and I'll take them at their word, but for me, I have to know where the book is going. This doesn't mean I don't change the plot because I always do; that's the creative part of writing, but without the plot in Excel, I can't keep track of who's where and when, etc.

Advice to writers:

Plot may be a four letter word, but it's acceptable in the writing world.