Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I'm going to abandon the story I've been writing for the last couple of weeks. The decision will dent my chances of hitting my target for the number of stories I want to write this year. But I can live with that.

I learned to my cost with a previous story that it is not a good idea to take a break while in the middle of writing. This time that derailed me again but, looking to the positive, it stopped me persevering with a tale that now looks unworkable.

It's all part of learning how I go about writing which, if I'm honest, it is a pretty chaotic process.

That may not be a bad thing. I've read a lot of books about how to do the writing thing and the advice they offer is very different. It has struck me that what all those authors of those books are laying out is how they go about writing.

There's no single process that everyone should follow to success - though there are tricks of the trade that are worth knowing.

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that it is important to discover how you work rather than do what works for others. Though it might be worth trying what they say if only to eliminate what doesn't work and get a sense of all the ways it can be done.

However, it might be just success that convinces me I've found my way to work. The last two stories I've written have felt a lot better than almost anything I've done and I wrote both of them in a pretty chaotic way. Instead of working it all out and sticking to that plan I'm setting off and adjusting as I go along.

Other writers have said that you never get the trick of writing a novel. While writing one you only discover how to write that novel. There might be something of that for the different way people approach short stories. As always though I'm wary of routine. Feeling like I'm on top of a subject is usually the moment when I faceplant and show the world what an arse I am. And as I am often heard to declare: I'm not disorganised, I'm spontaneous.

By contrast, many of the other stories have been pretty mechanical and I was getting a bit tired of going through those motions just to turn out a story that wasn't great. And didn't enthuse me. I needed a change because I could see that writing was going to be a grind if I kept up with that method. And this is supposed to be fun, right?

Which brings me to the story I've abandoned. One of the many tricks that is supposed to turn those ideas into workable stories is find out who has most to lose in the cast of characters you have assembled and then make all the action revolve around them.

I did that and the story sucked. All the life in it, and my enthusiasm for it,

Illustration of a scribe writingImage via Wikipedia

died on its arse. In working out what should happen the original impetus drained away. I ended up with a story that had no tension or conflict in it and was for far away from my original conceit that it felt like someone else's work. So, I gave up on it. Which is a pity because I've spent a long time trying to put it together. Like, months.

The story I have picked to get working on has instantly enthused me and got me thinking about how it can all work out. During my commute this morning I got it into a pretty good shape and know what is going to happen. All I need to do now is pick the main character and get on with it.
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