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writing: the element of play

I spent my Fourth of July weekend a) working and b) attempting to potty-train my toddler. Also I c) made peach cobbler, which is one of my favorite summery things to make (the peaches aren’t quite peak yet, and they’re not from our tree, but I couldn’t wait any longer). And my kids played, played, played all weekend long.

But I didn’t feel left out because a) they’re kids and playing is their job, of course! and b) my job can be very fun too. One of my favorite parts about writing is the element of play. By that, I mean the way you can play with the words, the characters, the scenario, the plot. You can throw things up into the air and see if they stick, fall down, shatter, break, fall softly, make craters that you can choose to leave or fill in later. And there’s room, when you’re playing, for diversions and difference and changes and choice. One thing gives here to make room for something there; another slides into place and something else slips away. I like this part of writing–when you experiment.

Even in this book, which has scenes I’ve planned for years, and which, in some ways, I’m rather locked into plot-wise (resolving mysteries, having things happen that I’ve set up/alluded to in the previous books) there is so much play. Yes, a certain scene or event needs to happen. But how it happens? What people say? How they feel or look when they say it? How I feel when I read it?

That’s all still up in the air, in some ways.

And it’s so much fun.




+ comments (18)
  • Taschima Cullen
    July 5, 2011

    You make writing sound so much fun, a world of possibilities… Even I want to try it ^^



    • ally
      July 6, 2011

      Taschima! So happy you stopped by! It was great to see you again this year at BEA! And you should try writing. I bet you would be great at it!



  • Elaine
    July 5, 2011

    That’s how I feel about writing! Even when you’re editing you can experiment. I love it all.



    • ally
      July 6, 2011

      Elaine, that is so great that you love it all. Even the editing!! 🙂



  • Aubrey
    July 5, 2011

    So great to read the fun parts about writing. I think on blogs often it is a place to vent, and that is totally okay with me…but I still want to know the fun stuff!

    And fresh peach cobbler sounds amazing! Mmmmm.



    • ally
      July 6, 2011

      Aubrey, thanks for saying that–I am glad you found the post useful. And sometimes I am guilty of thinking “this is so hard, this is so hard” and forgetting all the fun parts.



  • ShawnandCarrie-Jo
    July 5, 2011

    Ally, I have to say that as I’m re-reading Matched, I can’t wait to see where you take Cassia in the next two books. And although I understand writing while parenting small children is challenging (and I only have one), I am so anxious to read the rest and wish they were coming out faster!

    That said, I can only manage a book a year, too. I hope that if I find an agent and publisher that some day someone is as anxious for my next book as I am for yours!

    I’m glad you see to be having fun with the final book.



    • ally
      July 7, 2011

      Oh, thank you so much. It always makes me really glad when people are invested in Ky/Cassia/Xander’s journey.

      And it is nice to know that I have a fellow boook-a-year author! 🙂



  • Dayanara Ryelle
    July 5, 2011

    I think sometimes I’m far too concerned with what the reader will think if I make a big change or pull a big twist, when I should only be concerned about how the whole thing makes ME feel. (And that is quite good, usually.)

    There was one scene in my current novel in the last chapter that, when I thought of the action, I said to myself, “This gender ALWAYS does this thing. You rarely hear of that gender doing it!” So I switched the two. It made me squirm a little harder to write it, but that’s the idea. (If -I’m- squirming, how will the reader react? *evil grin*)



    • ally
      July 7, 2011

      Dayanara, I think that sounds excellent. And evil. In a good way. 😉



  • Maegan
    July 5, 2011

    This post makes me so happy! I’ve struggled a lot with my writing lately because I’ve let it become work. It’s good to remember the fun, the play, the make-believe. This is indeed a great job!



    • ally
      July 7, 2011

      Maegan, it really is, isn’t it? So glad it makes you happy too.



  • Shari
    July 6, 2011

    That totally made me want to sit and write. You made it sound like so much fun!



    • ally
      July 7, 2011

      Go write, Shari! You can do it!!



  • Ali
    July 6, 2011

    writing is a lot of fun and it is like playing to me. I can’t wait to do it. It gives me motivation to get my work done if I know i can write. sometimes I write first and work later.



    • ally
      July 7, 2011

      Ali, absolutely. I would much rather write than do any other kind of “work.” It’s ALWAYS more fun.



  • Paityn Astle
    July 6, 2011

    Hi! So I was just reading your book, Amazing by the way! Um you were my 10th grade english teacher at Timpview HIgh School I believe! LOL funny. I had no Idea because you’re Mrs. Condie to me so I kept thinking your name was familier and when I saw your picture I was so shocked! What a pleasant surpise. You were an awesome teacher:)



    • ally
      July 7, 2011

      Paityn! How fun to “talk” to you again! I’m so glad you thought I was a great teacher. I was such a rookie that first year. You guys were awesome to put up with me. And of course I remember you! How are you doing???




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