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collaging shadows
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Yesterday, after planning to for several weeks, Patrick and I finally sat down to try collaging our novels, using the Jennifer Crusie method. We both thought it sounded fun, but we both had many many internal doubts, because neither of us feels terribly artistic--I've never been good at visualization in any form, from geometry to watercolors, so I wasn't sure my imagination could even work that way.

Wow. It does. It really does.

Within half an hour of beginning (with a stack of old magazines and newspapers, two pieces of posterboard, a pair of scissors and a gluestick), I was finding out things about my characters and my novel that I hadn't had a clue about. Part of it was by omission--I found SO MUCH stuff I knew was about my heroine, her childhood, her back story, her motivations...and almost nothing for one of the other pivotal characters. Oops. Maybe I need to think a bit more about him to figure out who he is. And part of it was by how much my imagination was catching hold of bits I'd never thought about before. I found so many images for one guy, a "bad guy" character who had only had a few POV scenes, and I'm now thinking that he needs to be much bigger in the plot. I found my imagination catching fire on city maps, and realized that I want to make Vienna, the city, much more vital and more of a metaphorical "character" in the story. And I also realized that the darkness in the story--the horrible stuff that's led to the characters coming to this point--is much more central than I'd realized, when I'd been getting distracted by the sparkly dialogue and witty stuff going on at the surface level.

Patrick's working right now on collaging his new YA novel, and the images that he's choosing are weird and cool and exciting, as he figures out the different layers to the characters he's developing. I love the way grabbing images (and little random bits of text from headlines, articles, etc.) somehow tunes into a piece of my subconscious that I normally can't approach that easily. And probably the single best bit of sitting down to collage is that it's a fun, play-like activity that forces you to absolutely focus on your novel, in a way that I don't do nearly often enough. In my way-too-busy, overcrowded life, right now, I tend to focus on my novel only in my 45-minute lunchtime writing which point, I often have to sit staring at my computer writing nothing for the first ten minutes, while I remember where I am, what's going on, and who these people I'm writing about really are. I've thought more about that stuff--and come up with more useful plot points and major, underlying issues--in the last 16 hours than I had in the past few weeks.

So. Wow. Collaging. Is. Good. I am a convert!

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