I’m lazy, and so are you! Probably…

When writing, I’d much rather ignore a problem, hoping that it would solve itself, rather than tackle it head on. That is not to say I won’t do it eventually, but I’ve found it better to do it sooner rather than later…

For instance, if I write a story, I must always ask the question why; why did this happen? How does this affect the rest of the story?

When I try to answer these questions I discover new things about the plot, interesting and cool things that I would otherwise glance over. It’s not hard to spot these problems either, because you would FEEL that something is wrong, that something is missing. That’s why I believe stories exist independent from us and that we are just here to find them, I mean, otherwise you wouldn’t feel bad about skipping.

That’s why I think it’s important to be very selective when you pick what you want to work with, because when the story is vague in your head, there will be A LOT of work to find the missing pieces. But then again, therein lies the charm, the less you know the more there is to discover and I love to discover new shit.

Maybe if I sharpen my tools a bit it won’t be so difficult.

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…?

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.

Who Carries the Plot?

Is it the characters that carry the plot or is it the plot carries the characters? I’m not sure. Perhaps there isn’t a simple answer to that, at least not for me.

For me, stories never start with a character. My mind is so deep in the gutter I imagine entire worlds before I move down into a single character’s perspective. Sometimes it feels like the purpose of my stories are to give a satisfying conclusion to a tale that will never be published, that only exist in my head. Kinda like the first three Star Wars movies, a lot had happened before then and the prequels didn’t really need to be made.

Not that I’m a very big Star Wars fan but I just saw the Rise of Skywalker and Star Wars was on my head… In any case, this means that the characters are not in control of the plot, right? They have a destiny to fulfill and that is to finish what the past started.

Yeah, now that I think about it, it’s not the characters that make me excited, it is the concepts and ideas that I love to explore; the characters just helps me do it.

For instance, lets say there’s a boy who finds a magic item in a world where magic shouldn’t exist. He has to come to terms with magic existing and what he should do with that power. Do I then need to know the character before I start writing or will the character reveal himself through his actions?

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

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

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

I Abandoned a Story and I Couldn’t be Happier.

 There’s this story that I’ve worked on for about 2 years, and during this time, there’s been a lot of changes to the plot, which is not a good thing…

A short story should be simple, with a clear plot and it should be easy to grasp and explain to anyone who ask about it. But to achieve this, there must be a clear backstory and beginning, much like a gardener planting his seed:

(…) The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what the seed is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or a mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows (…)

 -George R. R. Martin  Full Quote

The backstory is the seed, in my mind.

But as you learn to write, you’ll apply what you’ve learned as you learn them, which will result in an entangled mess of subplots and character motivation until it doesn’t make sense anymore – if it ever made sense to begin with.

I tried my darndest to fix the plot, and to give you an idea: the story was 24 pages at on one point; I ended up with 120.

It was then that I finally realised there was no way… It hurt at first, a lot even. I didn’t want to think about how much time I’ve sunk into the story, but as I came to terms with it, I only felt relief.

But my time wasn’t totally wasted for what I’ve begun was the bones of a novel. I abandoned the plot almost completely and salvaged what I could. I used the worldbuilding I’ve already done and expanded upon it.

I’ve now learned not to be lazy and that everything rides on the beginning/backstory, otherwise, the rest won’t make sense. Hence, I spent a week working on the first chapter alone. There’s  not going to be any loose end this time around.

We’ll see how it all turns out, in worst case, it’s another learning experience…