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.
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…?
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.
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.