I appologize for that insulting rhyme in the headline, but holy fucksocks this week turned my writing philosophies inside out!
Whatever I thought I knew, whatever I proudly proclaimed to have understood about Writing from working on my first novel (The Deep Link), I just realized is a handfull of smoke wafting through my brain. Figures of fog that you can’t hold on to, however much you grapple.
Here’s what happened:
I planned ahead. I plotted, wrote worldbuilding notes, explored the characters, and even tried out different endings to the story. I had it all in place. I knew what I wanted, and knew how I was going to get it.
Except, it didn’t work out.
First, I don’t know jack shit about writing horror. Loving the genre and having an afinity for all things terror, gore and the depths of the human psyche are all cool and whatnot, but they don’t mean diddly squat when it comes to writing horror.
Second, shockingly, not every story can be planned ahead. (cue the sarcastic cartoon laughter coming from the corner)
Not evey story is best written to an outline. Not every story is a work of architecture. Some stories are like a shapeshifting beast cowering in the darkness, a beast who’s power lies in the fact that it is not seen in its entirety, that it is not known or understood in advance.
And that is something I haven’t expected to be valid for my stories too. I mean, I’m a plotter. I love to come up with intricate ways to torment my characters and then plop them into the maze and watch them run and squirm like frightenend, confused little mice. I can’t be running through the maze with them, that’s preposterous! It’s insane! But it seems some stories require that insanity in order to work.
This first week of NaNoWriMo I set out to write 2’500 words each workday, that means that by Friday night I was supposed to have 12’500 words. I had 12’297 — woohoo! BUT it’s 12’297 words of material that’s not a story, and most certainly not the story I intended to write.
It seems I can’t put this story to paper the way I envisioned it. For whatever reason, for a whole set of reasons, it just won’t work this way.
Am I disappointed? Not in the least! I’m writing new stuff again which feels awesome, and I learned something important about storytelling: there is no one true way for any one writer. Each story requires a different approach in order to work. I hear you say DUH! but it’s something that you can be told a million times by a million different people, but until you experience it yourself you never truly get it.
So now I have 2 options:
- Quit this story, and start writing something else immediately (pantsing it)
- Set fire to the outline, and continue writing this story but take an entirely different angle to it and just let it… happen
(You might have noticed that quitting NaNoWriMo is not an option. 🙂 )
Got any tips for me?
I just stumbled over this quote from Stephen King:
Plot is, I think, the good writer’s last resort, and the dullard’s first choice.
But given the fact that I struggle to finish reading any novel by Stephen King (holy shit-muffins that man is long-windeded and sidetracky), I won’t let his viewpoint weigh on me too heavily. But it sure as hell makes me think.