Monday, June 1, 2009

Where does the path lead?

Those of you who've been around a while may remember the family trip we took last fall picking apples. We went up to that lovely spot in Virginia again. No apples this time. Just hay in the fields next to the orchard. A path had been mowed through the hay so we could have our weenie roast, etc. It was a gorgeous day with lots of good company and music.

Here I was arriving at the picnic site and looked back up the path we had just come. At one end of the path was food at the other a gorgeous homage to the day.

In photography a path is nice to have. It visually leads the viewer into the picture and emphasizes your subject. The path in this picture leads to the clouds. As you know I love clouds. They can really make the shot.

In writing we lead the reader down figurative and sometimes literal paths. What we put at the end of those paths can make it worth the readers while or leave them frustrated. A book I read last summer drove me absolutely crazy, because it kept leading me down pathways that left me unfulfilled. I kept thinking that when I got to the end of the novel that everything would come together and all those winding paths would make sense. They didn't, and I felt betrayed. That made me not want to read the author's work again, but I'm sure I will give her another chance eventually.

Do your paths all lead someplace essential for your story?

24 comments:

Alyssa said...

I think I may have an idea about which book you're talking about. If it's the same one, I feel the same way. Lovely picture!

lotusgirl said...

Yeah. You're right. I figured you did.

beth said...

I hope my paths are all fulfilled! That's what I'm struggling with right now in revisions.

Liana Brooks said...

They had better! I don't like untidy endings.

Looks like you had a beautiful day.

Yunaleska said...

Mostly...but a few ends are untied for the next books! Mwahhahaaaahaaa!

PJ Hoover said...

Oh, I hope so! But I'm so not the right person to answer for my own work.
I've felt the same way for books I've read here and there, and I love being able to recognize this.

The Things We Carried said...

NOTHING frustrates me more than going down the path, the boring path, waiting, hoping, and discovering a blank wall at the end...UGH! A wasted effort.

Davin Malasarn said...

I pretty much accept now that if a book isn't satisfying me by the one-third point, it probably won't satisfy me at the end. Perhaps only once did a book surprise me by redeeming itself in the last few pages. And, even then, I didn't think the journey was worth the destination. As for myself, I try really hard to have the path and a good end to the path. I think of it was questions and answers. Are all of the questions I set up in the beginning of the book answered by the end? Or, if they aren't answered, is there at least some closure to them? I'm not sure if I'm always successful, but I do try hard!

T. Anne said...

As far as writing goes I'm a firm believer in not dissapointing the reader with loose ends and questionable hook-ups. We've all read those novel where you get to the end and groan in horror and want to hunt down the author and demand a rewrite. All roads must lead to a wonderful and place of satisfaction and fulfillment or else I may as well be reading Nicholas Sparks.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Beautiful photo! That sky is stunning!

Yes, all paths lead somewhere essential to my story. I won't start one without finishing it.

Lady Glamis said...

Lois, I LOVE this post AND the photo! You are so good, did you know that?

I think it was you who told me once, "If you're going to lead me down a rose filled path, I want to see roses at the end." Or something like that with some other flower...

Anyway, I'll never forget it. It's important to follow through with your promises and the paths you show your reader.

lotusgirl said...

Beth, Good luck with your revisions.

Liana, I don't like untidy endings either.

Yuna, I can understand that, but we have to be careful with that kind of thing.

PJ, I think being aware of the possibility helps us eliminate the problem.

TTWC, Exactly! I'm with you all the way on that.

Davin, I'm sure your writing resolves itself. I've heard great things about it.

T. Anne, Yep. That drives me crazy too.

Suzanne, Thank you. I'm glad that works for you.

Glam, Aw, shucks! Thanks! Glad that you like. That rose path thing does sound like something I said once. Follow through is essential.

Kelly H-Y said...

Beautifully put ... and I love the picture, with all the swirly clouds!

Tess said...

What a lovely day you seemed to have. And, yes, I feel the same way about the implied promises that a book has and how I feel if it doesn't deliver. It's the same w/ movies for me, too. I was REALLY disappointed w/ Mr. Magorims Wonder Emporium (sp?). I took my kiddos, expecting fun and whimsy and got a story about death and acceptance. It was fine...but not what the trailer promised and I was really bummed out.

Litgirl01 said...

I've definitely read books like that! I finish and I'm like....)#($*(#&)(Q????? I hope to avoid that! Great post!

Danyelle said...

I hear you about dead end paths. I think this is essential thinking--especially during revisions. Books mirror rather than mimic real life and nearly everything in a book should have a point.

Jody Hedlund said...

That is a beautiful picture! And I totally agree. There are enough dead ends in real life. We read to be lifted beyond that, to be given hope.

Tara Maya said...

Your point about paths is well taken. One beta reader of my wip noted, at an event early in the book, "This is a story promise. It should be happen before the end of the book."

Unfortunately, in that draft version, it didn't. I showed the path but didn't follow it, made the promise but didn't keep it.

I'm trying to change that now.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I certainly hope so! Beautiful photo.

lotusgirl said...

Kelly, Clouds make me very happy!

Tess, Yep, I'm the same way with movies too.

Litgirl, I hope to avoid it too.

Danyelle, Novels are not real life and so everything can have a point in them--and should.

Jody, Hope is a good point for books.

Tara, That's why we do many drafts and rewrites.

Sherrie, Thanks!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Great post. And so true.
Those are some crazy looking clouds. It must have been a beautiful day!

Pen Pen said...

I think each path HAS to lead somewhere that leads to a conclusion in the end--If you're giving paths that lead nowhere, it doesn't belong in the novel. People don't want to see ALL the footage of a reality show cuz some things are POINTLESS in life--we just want to see the transitional things and things that will help move the book move along---EVERYTHING should have a point!

Justus M. Bowman said...

You nearly lost me when you mentioned food. Ha ha. But I struggled on, after going back to the food part once or twice, and read about your displeasure. I once read a novel that rushed the climax and denouement. It annoyed me greatly. Writers gotsta resolve!

lotusgirl said...

Becky, Thanks.

Pen Pen, I agree. There has to been resolution to every path that is started.

Justus, I'm glad you were able to forge ahead past the food.