These sweet ladies read my book for their recent book club, which they discussed over Ethiopian food. Love!
Have you ever heard of Ockham’s razor? Essentially this is the concept that the easiest explanation is probably the right one. Think horse instead of zebra. It’s also called the law of parsimony. Named after an old English smarty — William of Ockham — who wrote, “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.”
Or, for us normal folk — “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity” — which translates to “stop over-thinking it.”
I heard about this most recently in an episode of This American Life and have been thinking about how it can apply to good storytelling. Some of my favorite stories don’t require twists and turns that confuse and boggle until the last page. They do require characters who are admirable in some way, and interesting in many others. One of the more daunting aspects of plotting a novel has been creating conflicts that are believable, clever and not transparent.
An example I can think of is in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer.” A character slowly begins gaining weight. As a reader you have an idea why, but the fact the character — who is so very smart — can’t figure it out causes just the right amount of confusion. When the character later discovers she’s pregnant, you can’t help but feel relieved your initial instinct was correct and duped that you didn’t have it diagnosed the chapter prior. This is the perfect shave, a la Ockham’s razor.
I’m busy working on the second novel. I haven’t been cooking or crafting much, but I am creating, dreaming, contemplating and avoiding critics. Putting the pieces of the latest puzzle together…