Mark Laporta

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Mark Laporta

Goodreads Author


Born
The United States
Genre

Influences
Science fiction: Isaac Asimov, Alastair Reynolds, Kim Stanley ...more

Member Since
June 2013


The stories that move me are about people shaped by moral dilemmas, love, and the sheer absurdity of everyday life. I'm intrigued by people smart enough to know how stupid they are—but unable to stop themselves from obeying their compulsions. That is, until a critical event shakes their foundations and opens a fissure in their rock-solid view of reality.

How do these people think, what's driving their emotions, as they hurtle toward the trouble lurking just around the corner?

Sometimes success starts with a patch of bad luck. And sometimes what looks like a windfall turns out to be a rampaging hurricane, lifting them up and out of everything they believe in. At both extremes are situations absurd enough to look tragic and grave enough to
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Mark Laporta The only time I get really stuck is when I can't see far enough forward in a story. That used to happen frequently in the past, when I'd dive in with…moreThe only time I get really stuck is when I can't see far enough forward in a story. That used to happen frequently in the past, when I'd dive in with no advance thinking. I've since learned my lesson.

Even with an outline, I sometimes have specific plot points to reach, but haven't yet found a logical route to them. The answer for me is to map it out a few different ways until I reconnect to the emotional through line of the story. I also go deeper into the characters and their tendencies, and find a path that way.

But getting stuck can also involve being inflexible. After I've tried to introduce this or that concept several times and it still doesn't fit, I realize it may have to wait until another story. Then the minute I stop insisting on a particular solution, I often find a workable alternative.

Another part of the answer is that I don't fixate on things. The story stays fluid at all times and I remind myself that the delete key is a writer’s best friend. I have no problem ditching pages or chapters that don’t work. I focus on what moves the story forward and what makes the characters more vivid and interesting. I don't fuss over "perfection." There's enough to attend to, to keep a story logical, emotionally authentic, readable, moving and entertaining.

Above all, I don’t labor over the fine points in the first draft. I try to keep the writing as tight and on target as possible but I don’t feel the need to resolve every word in Chapter 1 before starting Chapter 2. Once I’m a few chapters in, I work at both ends of the story at once, adjusting the beginning to match insights I’ve had later, or yanking a later chapter back to align with important aspects of the opening. But I do this with a light touch, knowing I’ll be going back over the story later, to enrich, enliven and elaborate.(less)
Mark Laporta I find the phrase “being a writer” a curious expression, because I don’t believe writing is a state of being. The relevant question is, “What is it…moreI find the phrase “being a writer” a curious expression, because I don’t believe writing is a state of being. The relevant question is, “What is it like to be a person who happens to write?”

By the same token, writing itself isn’t an independent object, any more than a birthday present is the wrapper or the box. Writing is the surface manifestation of an internal process that’s no easier to define than the person whose name appears on a book cover.

Sure, you can take a writing class. You can learn plot gambits, along the lines of those mastered by studying chess openings. You can be pointed in the direction of great writing. But ultimately, that gets you no closer to “being a writer” than ogling flowers in a botanical garden facilitates “being a biologist.”

At the same time, as someone who happens to write, I enjoy certain advantages. My internal process is, after all, a marvelous release valve. It enables me to assimilate the torrent of sensory, intellectual and emotional data I absorb every day. REM sleep, I’m told, is meant to do that, but I have to say my sleep centers don’t know the first thing about narrative. I wake up each morning more discombobulated than before and spend the next eighteen hours sorting out the plot lines of my sleep-tormented mind.

And there, in the sorting, lies the aspect of the process that satisfies me most. When the story is finished, to the extent that anything is ever finished, the tangled threads of observation lie in calm, coherent rows and columns, waiting to be parsed.

While the many squares on that grid contain contradictory moments — of passion, anxiety, love, philosophy or humor — they now coexist harmoniously and, within the realm of the novel, make a rare kind of sense.

The more stories I complete, the more life’s raging chaos shrinks to its proper proportion. It becomes a manageable lump of raw data to be examined under a clarifying lens. An aperture, that is, through which to observe and, finally, feel at peace with the whirling terrors of the external world.
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Average rating: 4.45 · 42 ratings · 25 reviews · 5 distinct worksSimilar authors
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Heart of Earth (The Changin...

4.37 avg rating — 19 ratings — published 2013 — 5 editions
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Heart of Mystery (The Chang...

4.57 avg rating — 7 ratings — published 2015 — 2 editions
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4.14 avg rating — 7 ratings2 editions
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The Changing Hearts of Ixda...

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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Heart of Earth Heart of Mystery Mirror at the Heart of Time
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The Ghosts of Watt O'Hugh by Steven S. Drachman
"An entertaining read about an occasionally time traveling cowboy with ambiguous special powers. He's actually a humble guy. There aren't many fiction books that I enjoy all the way through but this is one of them."
" The general premise is that all of the captives, including the Fountain heads, are held by a superior force they can't break. The Structure is a ...more "
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Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
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Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
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Nemesis by Isaac Asimov
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The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
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A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson
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78683 Review Group — 4018 members — last activity 1 hour, 32 min ago
Reviews are very important for Self-Published (SP), and Indie authors, just as they are for others. Unfortunately, though, many SP/Indie books don't ...more
220 Goodreads Librarians Group — 102314 members — last activity 0 minutes ago
A place where all Goodreads members can work together to improve the Goodreads book catalog. Non-librarians are welcome to join the group as well, to ...more



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