Skip to content

The Walk-and-Talk

I’ve got a friend, Dan, who’s been in my life since I was thirteen. I’m pretty sure he’s seen the long-lost drafts of The Scorekeeper, and I know for sure he’s labored through the tedious, trivial pages of The Poet Alexander. He could tell you the story of Taming Fire almost as well as I could, and he probably remembers when King Jason’s War was called Majesty and didn’t have anything to do with fighting….

Dan has shown an active interest in my writing career for almost as long as I’ve had one.

Over the course of those long years, we’ve talked more than once about writing a book together. It never quite came together, though. Sometimes it was creative differences — a book set in my world that he didn’t feel any real ownership over — and sometimes it was more practical — one or the other of us too busy with real life, or moved away to some distant city.

But a couple years ago we found ourselves safe from all those concerns. We were both living here in Oklahoma City, I’d just finished a project, and he’d just had an idea. He suggested we set a book in the world he and his friends in middle school has used as the setting for their D&D campaigns. He had a vision for the story, too — a message, a dramatic cast of characters pursuing a lofty ambition, and a compelling environment.

I was thrilled at the idea, so we sat at my kitchen table and talked it through. After the initial excitement wore off, we started spotting some problems, though. I didn’t know the world at all, he didn’t really have a good idea where to start or how to bound a story, and, most troublesome, these characters (dear to him as they were) were a little shallow — plain-vanilla genre conventions, or straight rip-offs of Dragonlance heroes.

And that quickly, the project died like so many before it. We’d shared a dream for…what, forty-five minutes? Then we both shrugged, we both said, “Well, that’s too bad.” And we dropped it.

Two or three days later, he came by the house and asked if I wanted to go for a walk. We did, just out in my neighborhood, and as we walked, he started talking about some thoughts he’d had on the story — ways he could bring the characters to life, ways we could make them our own.

It was a solution. More than that, it was an inspiration. I asked questions, proposed some variations on the idea, and we both said, “Ooh, what if…” more times than either of us could count.

We walked a big circuit through the neighborhood, forty minutes or so, and when we got back to the house we sat on the curb out front instead of going in. We talked some more, chasing inspiration, and after half an hour of that we got back up and headed off walking again. We did laps in front of my neighbors’ houses that night, dreaming up geographies and cultures, political and economic systems, heroes and villains, gods and devils and everything between.

While we walked, between us, we built a world. And we saw that it was good.

Why You Need to Check Out Google Wave

So much of good writing is conversation — whether it’s a walk-and-talk with a lifelong best friend, a heated exchange with a sharp-eyed copyeditor, or just a shrewd negotiation between your subconscious and your conscious mind. There are always problems, pitfalls and roadblocks sufficient to stop you getting where you need to go, but the right discussion can get you all the way from despair to inspiration.

That’s where Google Wave comes in. It’s a strange little offering, a program hovering somewhere between email and chat, between Docs and Blogger. It’s half-finished and not terribly polished, and surprisingly difficult to explain.

To the storyteller, though, it’s as good as a muse. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

Google Wave enables, enriches, and preserves conversations.

It’s inspiration in compiled bytecode. You need to check it out. Come back tomorrow and I’ll explain exactly what features of Google Wave make it so useful for writers.

Photo courtesy Google Wave. (Thanks Google Wave!)

One Response to “The Walk-and-Talk”

  1. […] I told you that good writing comes from great conversations and that, as a writer, you really need to check out Google Wave as a phenomenal tool for capturing […]