Confront your demons

Are there dangers in writing too simply?

Whenever I approach a story, I build it up as I go, meaning, it’s very basic and I skip a lot of steps in the process. For instance, I didn’t develop the scene when the character had to battle between doing what he wants and what is right; instead I made the choice for him and moved on. 

Basically, I skip a lot of essential scenes that might change the story later. I only do them if I absolutely have to, which is often very late in the process… 

I can never understand how most writers are able to write so much. Their concern is having to scale down while mine is scaling up! This leads to a lot of rewrites, naturally, because eventually I’m forced to confront these events and, inexplicably, the event didn’t turn out as I imagined it to be.

It sounds ludicrous because am I not the one making up the story to begin with? How much control do the characters have?

It’s almost impossible to make the necessary changes so late in the process because I’ve grown accustomed to my ideas, they anchor me in the sea of words that is a novel. I’m a slow learner but I cannot escape this fundamental flaw in my writing. I’ve jumped stories so many times because I was unable to understand my problem and in doing so never finishing anything. 

What’s it About?

I’m writing a novel – maybe a novella – and I decided that the premise would be a kind of ‘Boy Meets Girl’ kind of story with a twist. It’s not a love story, it’s a story about overcoming weakness, which could be said about all stories really where the characters grow and learn – however, mine doesn’t have a happy ending. In any case, because the important bits of the story happen on an island where the main character is sent to on military service, I want to glance over the things that happened before, meaning I want it to be short but comprehensive but this might prove to be a bit boring because the reader should fully understand, care, and relate to the main characters struggles, if I don’t display what lead him reach that point when the he meets the girl, will the readers care?

At the same time, it’s very dangerous for me to spend too much time on backstory because I’ll just go deeper and deeper, finding more and more characters until I’m so far from the original premise that it might as well be a completely different story! And as I have many unfinished novels under my belt, I cannot afford to let that happen, I need to decide what the story is going to be or else it’s going to be everything and nothing, because it will never be finished.

Or perhaps the reason why I haven’t finished anything is because I don’t let go. it’s my process to start with an original purpose and it’s supposed to transform as I write…? I seriously don’t know, and I suppose I won’t until I try. With this one, I’ll keep my mind on a leash, on the next, it will run freely; perhaps it will result in a complete story in the end after all?

Fairbanks Island – Day 15

Now I think I understand what Hemingway meant when he said to never empty your well of writing. (“I had learned already to never empty my well of writing“) We all have our limits and stopping before hitting that limit is immensely gratifying because the longer you write the bigger is the chance that you’ll run into a problem. Basically you stop while staying ahead, stop while you are number one. Another way of putting it, is to stop writing while knowing what you should be writing the next day, you carry the momentum.

Chapter 13

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FairBanks Island – Day 14

I took a break for a couple of days while I was in London and I haven’t posted in a while even though I have been writing. It’s strange how some activities you really cannot break the chain. One day’s rest and you’ll struggle to get back… But I digress. I’m back and glad to be posting again:

Writing is a struggle, but it’s the good kind of struggle, especially if you think that every word written – no matter how bad it may seem – is a step forward towards a finished story. That’s why I think it’s so important for us that do not plan to never look back or think ahead, and always be in the present. What you have written before and what you imagine the story to become are all distractions. To manage a story you must think what the character will do next, nothing more. When a solid plot has formed, then you can work out the details. You have a finished a roadmap and now you can even deviate from it, if necessary.

That is the most difficult part of writing, to let go of you expectations and just be, just let the story happen; finding the truth. Thinking ahead is the death of a organic story

Chapter 12

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FairBanks Island – Day 13

The story seem to be more like a highschool drama rather than a horror story, right now. I think it’s time I turn up the dial a notch. There’s a lot of good set up here that I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with. The drama involves a girl, the only girl on an island full of military men. The main character is serving there on a base there and they take a shine to each other. But as the story progress, there’s something wrong about her, which is where the horror element creeps in. Everything before have just been to pile on the mystery and the eeriness. I don’t want the reader to lose the sense of dread, not completely, though I must have them at ease, otherwise what comes next is not a surprise.

Chapter 11

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Fairbanks Island – Day 12

The funny thing about drafts are that you are pretty much forced to omit a lot of things things. One of the characters, for instance, is still just called “the Big Guy” and some characters that appeared in the early chapters hasn’t returned yet, at least not with any active roles. I think it’s because, at this early stage, it’s more important to make sure the Main Character’s (MC) arch is competent. They say the MC doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but he does, for now. It would be too much to handle at once, otherwise. I can learn about the secondary characters afterwards and it doesn’t prevent me from changing the plot later on.

Chapter 10

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Fairbanks Island – Day 11

Even though I didn’t do a whole lot, today, (mainly correcting some things and adding a few more scenes) sometimes you just want to relax, you know. You’ve reached a point where you feel good about yourself, that’s rare enough, and it it’s even harder to keep that feeling. My writing had gone smoothly, today, and I think I’ve figured things out, but I know that if I push further, I’ll hit a roadblock eventually. Knowing this, I dreaded to continue. I wanted the feeling of accomplishment to linger for a bit more before I dive head first into the mountain of problems that is writing a novel.

Chapter 8 and 9, re-arranged

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Fairbanks Island – Day 10

Stephen King says that there are three things that makes a story; Narration, Description, and Dialogue. Narration is the bare bones of a story that takes you from point A to point B; description and dialogue makes the story come alive. It makes sense to me, but it is only now that I fully understand the implication of this. Before the story comes alive for the reader, it must come alive in the writer’s mind. Let’s say you’ve written a paragraph you are proud of and then the plot takes another turn, making the paragraph incorrect, or at worst, completely wrong. You have not only wasted all that valuable time but it makes it hard for you to discard that passage and you might even try to force it in just because you put so much effort into it.

I’m a bit torn if adding description and dialogue in a draft is a necessary part of my process… I would like it to not be so. I would be very happy if I could make writing as painless as possible. But we don’t choose our muse and some of us simply has a bigger crosses to bare… You can keep track of my progress on Tablo: HERE

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