I’m Terribly Lazy at Plotting

I’m lazy. I don’t want to write more than I have to, and when I write, I’m hoping things will work out eventually… Not so! At least not when you are developing your backstory – everything that happened before the novel starts.

In my novel, I was kinda hoping I could just have the spirit of an evil witch that lived on an island without having go back too far who she was and how she came to be a ghost! But I have to… I have to plot it out until it makes sense, then I must write a story about her, just in case I missed anything or new things occur to me, because what I learnin the beginning is everything. Everything before the story happens has to make sense before I can get the real story rolling. I’m hoping that if I do that, I can make up the novel as I go because I know I have a solid foundation.

Wasting time writing

What is the story about?

It was about something, now it’s something else…

Why can’t there be an easy story to write? Why do I need to do a trial and error to nail down what the story is about?

I can’t… I just can’t continue writing, because all of a sudden, it’s different from what it was before. All that work feels wasted, like, there must be a better way to do this…

I don’t care that it might be a master piece eventually because it is not worth spending so much time on stuff that you never gonna use.

Am I a perfectionist or is it a learning curve? Will it become easier over time or am I doomed to write and abandon stories because they will eventually stop making sense…

I never plan, it seems counterintuitive to plan out something you know nothing about. A story takes form as I write about it. Perhaps I need to do both? Just write then plan things out; write and plan over and over until it make sense… The characters grows, the plot grows, I grow.

Or maybe I’ll just have to pick a story where I have something to say… I have some of those. Why haven’t I picked them out before…?

Kill your Darlings… Ain’t that the truth…

Why is it so hard narrowing down your ideas into a cohesive story?

If you are anything like me, your mind is bombarded with ideas all the time, which is no exception when you write. You want to explore everything; everything is interesting, until you have material for three or four separate stories which has nothing to do with each other but you try to make them into one anyway.

This is my struggle.

On top of that, I’m very arrogant. I believe I can make a story from virtually nothing. You have one of those very vague but cool ideas, you know, which you try to make into something. I didn’t really have to be persistent with this idea because I have plenty where the plot is very clear and I have a clear message which I want to convey… Not this one. I don’t know what’s it’s about or what I’m trying to say, it’s just a cool idea I want to make into something.

I still believe I can make something out of this because I am still arrogant, but it will take a lot of work and I have done too much already to give up now…

Learn to discard ideas, kill your darlings, as they say, which I never believed in but is truer to me now more than ever.

Don’t assume that things will work out as you write your script. Plot demands serious thought and you will just end up wasting time if you skip it.

For me, it boils down to having to learn early in the writing process what works and what’s not and not jump at every idea you have, especially if you have a lot of them, which I have all the time… Endlessly…

Basically; don’t start on something when you got nothing.

 

I can make any story seem good to a point, polish it and whatnot, but when the plot, the theme, and the whole existence of the story doesn’t work, it will never work.

I dug too deep and came out with nothing.

The worst part about editing is when you realize you like both versions equally as much and you try to incorporate the best bits of both versions into one. It never becomes pretty but you do it anyway, until you destroy both and start anew.

LoTR and Info Dumps

The biggest problem with writing fantasy stories is that we have to present a whole new world organically without overwhelming readers with names and places. Tolkien has an interesting way of presenting his world which I don’t think many have tried to emulate since. He does something that is generally frowned upon in the writer’s world today and that is he stops the plot by giving context to his places. This might seem like a bad idea but I think this is extremely vital to do in a fantasy setting. It usually goes like this: The heroes reaches a new place and then Tolkien gives some context to the history of that place and what the people living there are like through narration. One example is his introduction to the people of Bree, why there are both Humans and Hobbits living there and that it once was a an important crossroad town.

What’s so genius about this is that Tolkien can show a world and tell about organically because he makes us care about his world as we explore it. Many writers dumps a lot of information about places that the reader, and often the heroes, have never been to.

Why should we care?

Another important thing that most fantasy authors don’t do, I think, is that they fail to give context, or history, to small places, places that does not necessarily involve the main plot. Often the heroes just visits a town, something happens there, and then they move on. It’s just a nameless town with nameless people, a plot device. This makes the world hollow and forgettable, I believe.

Is there other ways one can convey the same information? You could use dialogue but I find it highly unlikely that the history of the places the heroes visits would come up in conversation very often if they are on a quest to save the world.

I don’t know about you guys, but if I would journey across the land, I would like to know a thing or two about the places I visit. Today we have the internet, but decades ago, people would have to pick up a history book, and that’s how LoTRs sometimes feel like, a very entertaining history book.

Writing Simply is for Children?

Finding a style that works for you and for the readers is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I dream of a future where I can write something smoothly, meaning my style is set, I know what I can do and I’m good at it. But to reach this goal you need to know what you want and to read a lot of different kinds of books. I had a hard time reading children’s stories before because I thought they were very slow, but once I slowed down myself, and didn’t try to finish the story as quickly as possible, I find the story much more enjoyable. Also, I learned something:

In children’s stories, they really write simply, yet I can see exactly what they imagine. perhaps not exactly but they give me enough information to imagine for myself. In most other fiction, especially fantasy, everything is described in minute detail and doesn’t give much room for my own imagination. Why is that? Is it because adults don’t have imagination? Is it because adults expect books to be hard and children’s books to be simple because children are simple?

Who knows, I often think that books on the fantasy genre is a slug to read but never children’s stories, they are boring for other reasons, sometimes… Maybe one can use the best of both worlds, somehow?

 

Show or Tell, Both.

There is no doubt that you have to write down everything that happens to a character, whether it’s in the past or the present, because you, the writer need to have a clear idea what lead the character from point A to point B. But that doesn’t mean what you write will end up in the story at all! All those scenes that you have worked so hard on will sometimes never be shown, it will be shown implicitly through your writing. You will hint that they have happened, these scenes will appear in a conversation, never fully explained, but it doesn’t need to be. The reader only need to know the consequences of those scenes and will create new scenes with more depth, because you know more than the reader.

On the other hand, this does not have to be true at all! It all depends on the story you are making. A children’s tale, for instance, can have layers of depths, but that doesn’t mean everything is shown, but rather told, in a concise manner. It’s neither boring or superfluous because the charm of the writer bleeds through a narrative. People that read such stories know what they get into. Others will be put off by it, but that doesn’t matter. You write what you like to read, what you find fun writing and other people will find your style appealing because you like what you do.

Let me Indulge!

I have so many ideas it’s crazy… I’m super excited when I have them but I feel like I cannot start on a new project before I finish the first. But exploration is what I love about writing… And I’m wondering if maybe I could allow myself to indulge in these new ideas a bit before I continue on the main project – you know, to see where it takes me…

I feel like I need to do something with them, in any case, at least to find out if I should discard them or not. There’s not reason for me to work on stories with vague ideas or stories that I have difficulty to move forward with when I have so many to choose from.

If I explore ideas while I have them, I might be able to make a call which ones I want to go back to on a later date.

What do you do with your ideas? Do you get them everyday or just occasionally?

 

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