Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nature of Beginning (part 3)

Welcome to my back fence where I like to chat about writing and all things creative. I'm continuing my series on the nature of beginnings. I had an interesting chat with the multi-talented author Gail Carson Levine recently about CHAOS. Check out her blog for some ultra-fine writing advice.

Chaos is the study of systems that respond easily to change, especially at the beginning. These systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions. These conditions can vastly change the outcome of the systems. This sensitivity is called the butterfly effect. Initially, the wings of a butterfly can really set something like a hurricane in motion. If you look at the system later, a butterfly's wings will make little difference to the wild power of a hurricane. Yep, the beginning is REALLY important in a chaotic system.

I think that novels are chaotic systems, and this is why beginnings are such a bear. The first chapter of a novel is the place that beginning conditions are put in play. The first chapter will determine the course of the whole book. A book is very sensitive to changes in the beginning. The entire outcome rests on those first few pages. One of your goals is to find the butterfly wing events that set the engine of your story in motion. Yes, at times, this is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I've said it before. In the beginning, write a first chapter with a "tossability" factor. It's easier to back track from the hurricane to the butterfly wings event than the other way round for me.

Don't be hard on yourself if you've tried going at that beginning on your current work the twentieth time. Just take a deep breath and keep going. This process is delicate, complex stuff. You are David taking on Goliath. The good news is persistence is the key. You will move into the a solid pattern with enough tries. Don't give up.

Cast off into the deep waters knowing that you will find currents that will take you to distance shores. I hope you enjoy the journey this week. I will see you next week with some GOLDEN advice. :)

Now time for doodle of the week. I call this one, "Carpet at Seatac".

The fear of infinity is a form of myopia that destroys the possibility of seeing the actual infinite, even though it in its highest form has created and sustains us, and in its secondary transfinite forms occurs all around us and even inhabits our minds.
Georg Cantor

1 comment:

Vijaya said...

Your analogies are wonderful, Molly.