Wednesday, October 24, 2012

From the story out, not the rules in.

There are tons of problems with the book.

I've got a funny attitude about this. 

Every problem is an opportunity to improve the book.

Every solution to a problem, improves the book.

The chaos is just an opportunity to find new ways of doing it.

One of the writer's group members was talking about how real writers plan everything in advance.  Like an artist, they have the vision they want already in their heads.

I disagreed.  I said that my understanding of many  artists is that they often find inspiration in happy accidents.  For me, writing a story means lots of false starts and deadends, but each of them spark ideas.

Michelangelo is said not to known what he would sculpt until he started carving -- that the stone itself told him what it wanted to be.

It seems so bloodless to me to sit around and diagram.  Plus, I think there is a huge tendency now to follow formula's.  Lots of writer books about How To Write.

Don't get me wrong -- all this is important.

I usually find where I want to go within about 50 pages or so.  But by exploring the characters and their motivations and having the plot arise from that, I think I find a book that works better than if I come up with the plot, and then invent characters to fulfill that plot.

Another member of the group had a great point.  What if the end destination turns out to be different from the one you planned?

Besides -- my reading of  how-to writing books is that they tend to contradict each other.  Which only confirms my suspicion that every writer does it differently.

The real answer is -- whatever works for you.

I have to insert here -- almost every small business book I've ever read has been utterly useless and unhelpful.  My own experience in business either seems to contradict what they're telling me, or most often, lay completely outside of what they're telling me.  Bah.   I suspect writer's how-to books are nearly as useless.

Let me give you another example:  there are critiquers who come to group who have a set of perimeters as to what they think is good writing, and they apply these rules to every story they hear.

Whereas, I try to find what parts of the story I've just heard can be improved.  That is, from the story out.  Instead of from the rules in.

I've seen writers waylaid by these outside strictures of formula.  Instead of following their hearts, they try to conform.  Often it seems to me, these writer's never finish, or quit writing altogether.

This is not to say they shouldn't try to learn.

But more important to me, is to start writing and exploring your subconscious.

Finally, as a bit of irony.  I fully intend to TRY to outline the next book.  I've tried in the past, and never wrote the books.  But I admit I'm getting a little tired of the dead ends and red herrings.  So maybe I'll find out I've been wrong all this time -- that outlining is the way to go.

I'll give it a try.

1 comment:

H. Bruce Miller said...

"One of the writer's group members was talking about how real writers plan everything in advance."

Not true. Charles Dickens, to take one notable example, made it up as he went along. He started out with nothing but a concept and a character or two.