Monday, 30 November 2009

This writing lark is hard!

It isn't that I thought it was easy. I always knew that writing creatively was hard, but I never knew just how hard until I started. I'm no less committed to the process than I was when I was giddy with inspiration and enthusiasm but that enthusiasm has now been tempered by a little experience. I think that this is a part of the journey. The realities of getting a story from the confines of my twisted mind onto paper in a way that captures the mind of my reader are quite harsh. The information the reader needs to appreciate the story (exposition) must be decided with some clarity and must come across naturally rather than my current style of, what my friends politely call, infodump. Brevity is something that happens to writers. I also need to flesh out my protagonist more in my own mind before I can bring him to life on paper.

These along with a host of other challenges can seem overwhelming at first, particularly when I think I've got a really cool story that I desperately want to tell. If I could only find the words to tell it well. I'm also trying to be as original as I can and am resisting the temptation to blatantly thieve the storytelling tools of my many betters. For example, Dan Abnett, storyteller supreme has been known to preface a chapter with an excerpt of faux history to help set the scene. Gosh what a clever little device! If I use it am I being hopelessly unoriginal or am I simply learning my lessons and not trying to reinvent the wheel? I'm not sure.

Looking over my first aborted piece I also came to realise that what I wanted was a short story but the way I was writing made it clear that I was really undecided between a short story and a novel. It is in my nature to start with a big picture which, when down to brass tacks, becomes a plethora of small details that I get lost in, never to be found. The name of the planet on which our intrepid hero is fighting the forces of evil...what kind of planet...where did the evil originate and how did it this part of a sector wide conflict or local to this world only? And so on until I'm so thoroughly knotted that I can't see the proverbial wood for the trees.

Last night I though of an idea that I suspect would be truly elementary to the most inexperienced writer. I went to bed with a notebook (oh behave!) and jotted down as much of the above questions as I could and as many answers as I could find until I could no longer keep my eyes open. This was in the hope that by putting it on paper it would get out of my head and leave some space to think about the other elements of the story and its characters. It seems to have worked...mostly. I think there's going to be many more sessions of scratchy pencil writing before I put hand to keyboard again and methinks this is a good thing.

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