Ah, at last - the walk down through misty fog, temperature dipping below 50 F. Into the warm, noisy Beanery. Then my drink is at hand...ah, the first taste in weeks, smooth and sweet, with peppery, cinnamony, chocolate espresso overtones.
The folks here are asking, where have you been? What have you been doing? I explain it all and ask, but more importantly, do you remember my drink? Of course they do. It can never be doubted.
I've been reading about disruptive innovation the last couple days, a theory put out by Clay Christensen. Caught my eye in a business story last week and sounded interesting. Naturally, I thought of writing. That, to me, is what much fiction writing is about - disrupting the status quo and finding new, innovative stories to tell, or tell old stories in new ways.
I like that relationship of terminology. Disruptive: causing or relating to disruption, itself, events or activities that throw things into chaos or impedes progress. Sounds like the opposite of what you desire, doesn't it?
And then - innovation: the act of introducing something new.
PC Magazine provided a good list of disruptive innovations a few years ago. DVRs, Youtube and cheap cameras, cloud computing and always on devices, blogs and Google ads. We can easily look back at fiction and identify some likely candidates as disruptive innovations, like the Harry Potter series, or the young adult market in general. In publishing, we've passed the cusp of digital and print on demand publishing and are pursuing new, different exciting ways to produce, market and sell books, helped in large part by the growth of ereaders, smart phones, and apps.
Disruptive innovation. It's often what writers pursue in fiction, ways of making smart readers think they know what's going to happen and then revealing surprises and unexpected plot twists.
So disruptive innovation is exactly what's often wanted in fiction writing - innovations, the act of introducing something new, to change the course or impede progress - whether it's solving a mystery, bringing two lovers together, conquering a world, or destroying a monster. You build tension with your distruptive innovations, changes that help drive conflict and force the characters to act, react, and change.
I've been using it for years without being aware I was doing it. And in truth, it's not something that I evolved. I need to thank both Orson Scott Card and Damon Knight for pointing out that you don't want to start telling a story about how a man walked from A to B, and the weather was fine, and he reached there without problem, the end. I often start out with a concept and then ask, how can I turn this concept on its head? Once I find a handle to turning it on its head, it then becomes a matter of telling a story that compels the reader to wonder what the hell is going on while enticing them to keep reading, keep reading, until the end is at hand. Hopefully, once the reader is there, they don't want it to end. I have a few fans - well, they're friends that have read and admire my fiction, so I brand them as fans - I'll keep them anonymous so they can't disagree - but one of my favorite compliments I received from them is that they didn't want the story to end. They wanted to see what happened next.
Good. That's exactly what I want.
Now, time to write like crazy - again.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com