Sunday, 6 December 2009

Fleshing out the story...while battling with my mind.

Been sitting at my computer for a while with my pad and scratchy pencil writing away like there's no tomorrow. I'm still torn between writing a novel and writing a short story. I want a short story but the quantity of detail pouring out of my head lends itself to the length of a novel. Though some concepts in writing are common to both they are distinctly different exercises. Besides which I can hardly post a novel on my blog!

My main character is starting to take shape. I quite like the man. Which, I'm told, is a prerequisite to writing a story about him. I've even made some headway in developing the world upon which he is fighting and the enemy he's fighting against. I really feel that I'm getting bogged down in details that there is no room for in a short story but I just can't ignore all the little details! I forget, or fail to trust, that my readers will likely fill in the gaps from their imagination if I provide a clear enough picture of the now. A clear enough picture of a human being in conflict. Bring them into the action where it's life and death and the little details become of secondary importance...I think. That's been my experience of reading the beginning of a story where things aren't clear yet. Particularly when the author has chosen to thrust you into the action with little or no background beyond what you already know of the genre.

Which brings me to another challenge. I'm writing this story in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Who am I writing for? Am I writing for people who are already fans? Yes most certainly but I'm also hoping to appeal to a wider audience with the hope of drawing them into a fictional world that has entertained and inspired me for seventeen years! This seems like an almost impossible task. I must choose between one or the other. But how am I going to set the scene so that the unfamiliar reader can know enough to enjoy the story without my resorting to "infodump"? The inaccessibility of tie-in fiction to the general reading public is an issue that better minds continue to struggle with. Am I starting with too big a challenge? Should I just post my stories on the forums dedicated to the world in which I'm writing where everyone is generally on the 'same page'?

The above are a few of the many things I am really battling with to get this story down on paper in a way that grabs my audience by the throat and doesn't let go. I know I'm asking too much of myself at the beginning and that's one more thing to struggle with but I want to write something that I'm at least able to post without thinking, "that's just crap!"

If you, dear reader (writer or otherwise), have any answers or advice please do share them with me in the comments. I would appreciate any guidance I can get.


  1. You may be over thinking the whole non-Warhammer 40K readers. If you like writing for that universe, just do it. I'm sure you'll end up including more information on your 2nd or 3rd round of edits. Put. It. Out. There. I have a childrens book idea from a story that I made up for my kids two years ago that is just festering away because I'm overthinking it. Don't do what I am doing, please...

  2. That's just the sort of help I needed! Thanks for taking the time out to share that thought. Much appreciated Hollowman. If you know anyone else who might have some insights on this or any of my other challenges please do direct them here. I even emailed the master himself (Dan Abnett, at whose altar I unashamedly worship :) ) for some guidance.

    The only advice I can offer in return is that the only way to get past your own roadblocks is to sit at the computer and just start! You might not be happy with what you get down but I've found that it kicks out the jams and lets the mind flow again. Thanks again.

  3. I agree about not worrying about the non-warhammer people. The old saying "write what you know" is a good one. As long as you can picture what you're writing, I'm sure your readers will be able to as well. I like when authors give you just enough detail to start painting a picture in your head without pointing out the size and shape of every pebble on the ground.

    Best of luck!


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