I Made a Failure Today

Sometimes, when you write, you’ll come across failures, at least, if you are willing to explore. The plot will drive you forward, and as you go on, you will make up reasons to why things are happening, but sometimes, there’s will be a nagging feeling that something isn’t right; that no matter how much you try, you can’t salvage this story.

Yet, you continue on, hoping, that the solution will present itself eventually. But stories aren’t problems to be solved, they simply are, or aren’t. If there’s nothing of substance from the beginning, there won’t be any further down the line. When that happens, you’ll have to let go. I set a deadline on myself for my short stories, no more than a month. It has now been a month and I’m back where I started. The first chapter doesn’t make sense and the first chapter is everything. It is the foundation of your story; it is the one that will hold you on the right course throughout the rest of the tale. If the first chapter is solid, the ending will be too.

To reach a good foundation the backstory needs to make sense, but you cannot always find the backstory without doing a bit of drafting, and this is where the problem lay. You’ll fall in love with what you have written and you will be reluctant to let go and you’ll try everything to make it part of your tale, but it isn’t happening. You are corrupting your story, Frankensteining it with bit and pieces that shouldn’t be there, that isn’t true to the tale, and after while, it’s none redeemable and you’ll have to let go.

When the story has left your mind, it’s shackles broken, perhaps, you’ll recall a particularly good part of this tale and it will inspire you to make a brand new one! – someday… A better one, and do things right.


© Christopher Stamfors

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