Writing a Novel is Hard…

I’ve come to realise that working on a novel is hard, I know, right, shocker! Nevertheless, I had this illusion that I could make anything rather smoothly, thus, whenever things got too difficult I jumped to another project. The logic was that I would return to it once I learned how to write. Though it is true you get better with practise, I think my naive outlook (or overconfidence, perhaps) made me never finishing a project once it got hard. There’s merit to finishing something even if it’s not perfect, after all.

I honestly thought that I was inadequate because it got hard, or because there was something fundamentally wrong with the story itself which made it impossible to finish. I hoped that once I got better, I would be able to finish any story without difficulty. Though it is true that you get better, there is absolutely no excuse not to finish a project you started. Which is why I’m sticking with the current story – Fairbanks Island – no matter what. I’m going to finish my other stories too, one after the other, no matter the end result.

With this in mind, I’ll try to be more picky about the stories I choose in the future. There are so many ideas that I want to explore which I’ll never be able to in a lifetime; and sense I’ve accepted that stories will be hard to make, I’ll only choose those stories that really excite me! Something meaningful and worth the readers time beyond simply to entertain.

I hope your writing is doing well and if you are not a writer, hope you enjoy my stories which you can find, here. Consider following if you like what you read!

Good Ideas Will Never Leave You

Ever tried just writing something down without anything in mind? Often, a word or a sentence will appear… anything can be formed then; a story, an essay, a poem, a blog post, a diary entry, anything. These are the true thoughts, those that have festerd and merge with other ideas for lord knows how long, until they become true. They are the thoughts you’ve resisted to write down because the written thought is where they come to die, they’ll leave you.

However, thoughts that come to you because they were written, they are the thoughts that you would never have considered without a pen in your hand or a keyboard in your lap. They are thoughts that amaze you to such a degree that you can hardly believe they come from you. You wonder if maybe somebody else is guiding your hand, telling you what to write.

When I write fiction, I have countless thoughts that it would be impossible to return to all of them, because they are a mess, and sometimes incoherent and only makes sense to the person I was at the time. I always fretted over this, trying to organise them so that I could find them easily, but that ended up taking as much time as writing itself, and, I found that I rarely returned to them. Instead, I’d write them down again from memory and I believe that is for the best, because you only recall what sticks with you and those ideas are often the best parts.

What we need to realise is that a story is organic, and so is your mind. Accept your flaws and the unknown. Embrace that there are things beyond our explanation and let it shine through your writing.


© Christopher Stamfors

Our Mind’s a Stranger

They say you must write to learn, to ascertain information better. I wonder if that’s true. Surely, some information can simply be absorb into our consciousness, surely, we don’t need to know the details, only it’s there to be gathered when needed – which is never when others want you to need it…

We won’t remember it clearly, of course, that’s not because we have poor memories, but because the information has been twisted and transformed; merged with other ideas in an indistinct way that cannot be ascertained. But we know it’s there, we know it when we write it down, when it’s fully formed, when it has festered in our brain.

Trying to force a memory is never good, because those ideas aren’t fully formed, they aren’t ready to come out; and they will never come out how you remembered them once they submerge into the recesses of your mind. They are twisted as thoughts gather upon each other until they become part of who you are. Only such thoughts are worth coming out, when they have been untangle and rearrange the twisted mess into something comprehensible, present it in a meaningful way for others and yourself.

But can we truly trust that this will happen, or will the thought be lost in the void if not printed on paper? Let me ask you, will you ever return to a note? The thousands of ideas and thoughts collected over the years? Most likely no, why should you? You have new thoughts every day, what makes the past ones special? They aren’t, because they are shallow thoughts, the genesis of greater ideas that is now is gone because it is now on a piece of paper… Words are where thoughts come to die, or be recreated, you choose which is which.


© Christopher Stamfors

Ignition of Change – Poem

A story is nothing but the preparation of change.

How to reach this point sets the road ahead.

The writer must find this road and not steer from it.

We don’t know the characters in our minds but in our hearts.

At the end of the road they’ll be known in our minds too.

It is then when the writer shines.


© Christopher Stamfors

It shouldn’t be this frustrating

I while back, I promised myself to never work on a short story for more than a month and now I’ve broken this promise and I feel awful. Why did it take longer than the other times? I don’t know, but I feel that I need to figure this out. Writing a story shouldn’t be this hard and I refuse to accept that the story itself was flawed from the beginning. Everything can be made into a story, it’s just the author that messes up along the way. All I have to do is swallow my pride and do it over again… Right?

The way I figure out something is wrong is when I’m about to reach the ending of the tale and I start to struggle. Something doesn’t make sense and thing don’t wrap up as neatly as they should and I don’t know why. I can imagine part of the problem is that I rely heavily on intuition, that one decision leads to another and will eventually guide me towards the true ending.

Which leads me to believe it’s not the ending that’s the problem, but the beginning. If the ending sucks it is the beginning that is flawed. Makes sense, if the foundation is flimsy the entire building will be flimsy. The question is, can I identify what makes the foundation flimsy before I reach the ending? So that I don’t have to deal with the frustration and rewrites? I don’t know, I honestly don’t. At least I have located the problem, hopefully…

Tell the Truth!

I’ve read many sorts of books and I’ve come to realise that in the English speaking world, it is very common to have stories with themes. A red line that ties the story together. I’ve read a couple of the classics from my own country and I find that we have a very different tradition. Most stories are very “mundane” for the lack of a better word. There is drama, but the characters don’t act as if something of significance has happened. It doesn’t have an epic scale or world shattering consequences, it’s just real life, and in real life, everything doesn’t tie up as neatly or matter that much.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on literature, this is my own interpretation, but I find this way of writing very appealing. What do I care if the ending might be unsatisfying to the reader? All I can do is to find the truth of the story. The most important thing a writer can do is to make sure that the motivations of the characters make sense, just like a real person.

Don’t make the story into something it’s not.

As Hemingway would say, you can write about any subject matter as long as you write truthfully. He also said that you should write living people, not characters, so…

I write from the gut, meaning I plan little ahead, preferably not at all. This might backfire and I write myself into a corner, but this is only true if you try to manage your story, instead of letting it lead you; find the truth. I don’t want to fight the story because of a preconceived notion of what a good story is.

My first story was a 400-page fantasy which I wrote in 6 months. That was 3 years ago and I have not finished a book since. I believe that because I knew so little about writing it allowed me to finish the book. There were no perfectionism or expectations that stood in my way. I’m not saying don’t learn the craft, but don’t take other’s successes as your roadmap – find your own.

Remember, writing is supposed to be fun. Have fun!


© Christopher Stamfors

The True Story

Considering what I wrote in my last post, you might find it strange that I think plot is the hardest part of writing. Not because I cannot come up with anything but because I tend to get ahead of myself. The plot is always subject to changes, this is inevitable, but you can make it much easier for yourself if you do it right.

A plot doesn’t come out fully formed, it is discovered as you write it, at least that’s how it is for me. But that doesn’t mean you should go diving into the details right away. There’s a difference between working on the overall structure of the story and what the motivations of the characters are. Motivation is the driving force behind the plot, not what you think the story should be. As long as the motivations are true, the conclusion will be satisfying – and everything else is just details.

Don’t make it harder on yourself.

Of course, writing isn’t as straightforward as that and there will be complications along the way. But I have found a personal solution to this, when I write a new story, I treat it like a fairy tale. You write it as simply as you can because small children doesn’t have the patience to work themselves through a long novel. This forces you to omit scenes and dialogue and only add them when they are structurally necessary.

Finding your process is the hardest, and most time consuming, part of a writer’s early career and I hope I’ll find mine soon and I sincerely hope that you’ll find yours too.


© Christopher Stamfors

Organized Mess

Ideas, ideas, ideas… Why, they are everywhere, constantly bombarding my mind?! Why is everything so inspiring? I can’t watch a movie, read, or take a walk before something interesting pops up. What am I suppose to do with all of them?

I try to organize them.

It took time to come up with this system, and still it’s not perfect, but this is the best I can come up with, so bare with me. I separate them into three categories: ideas that are concepts, ideas with narration and ideas with plot.

Guess which category most of my ideas end up as?

Concepts are easy, so little is required of you to have them. The definition I use for a concept idea is that it has neither characters nor any sort of narrative, meaning they are the “what if” stories. These types of stories can turn into anything, if you let them, and require the most work. They are also the most fun because the plot hasn’t materialized yet.

Then there’s ideas with narration; they are the next step after the concept. These types of ideas are still very open to change, but there have events that tie it together. The characters are nameless and faceless, at this stage. Things has little consequence because we do not care about the world yet. You might have noticed with my ambiguous talk that this stage is difficult to define because where do you draw the line between concept and plot and is there something in between?

Maybe after further study, I’ll figure it out…

Then there’s those few ideas where, at least, some of the characters have been materialized. They have faces and personalities and there’s an urgency that drives the story forward. Ideas with plot is what every writer strive towards, because without characters we care for, we don’t care about the story overall. Even if the world building is excellent, the scenes vividly expressed, or an interesting topic is brought up, if we don’t care about the characters, the story is without meaning.

So this is how I organize my ideas. Obviously when I pick my next story I should choose the one with a plot already in the works, but sometimes it is liberating to choose an concept and see where it will lead.


© Christopher Stamfors

When the things you touched turned to garbage

It’s a happy time, and a difficult time, when the things you’ve written all turn to garbage. It means that you have leveled up. You see now what your critics has been talking about and it is time for you to become better.
You are not yet there, though. You see your flaws but you don’t know how to fix them. You need to accept that what you once were was nothing more than a stepping stone and you’ll have to power your way through your “garbage pile” to make it better.
Because of this, it is also a sad time. All your efforts seem wasted. All the carefully crafted sentences that you made with the best of your abilities seem pointless when they’ll soon be changed to something better.
But what is most difficult to swallow is the realisation that your book is further away from a finished product than you realised. Making you wonder if you’ll ever catch up to your own worst critic –  if it will ever be good enough to publish.