Friday, January 16, 2009

Writing the Wrong Story

I'm always writing the wrong story.

The problem, as a writer, isn't inspiration; it's perseverance. Because eventually, that neat story with the great characters and witty dialogue that you're almost a third into? It turns into something more annoying than a flock of mosquitoes after you've spilled lemonade all over yourself. And that's when the other story, the new shiny story that's faster, slicker, sexier, makes its move.

And right now, when I'm trying to get deep into another project, I keep getting distracted by faster, sexier stories. What is it today? Of all things, it's an idea for a horror story, and I don't even LIKE horror movies or stories. I've only written one my whole life, and that was cheating (I had a bad dream with neat resolution, woke up and wrote it. My conscious mind only had to spend about an hour on the story. I love cheating!).

Anyway, I am outlining the story now, so I won't lose it, and then shelving it.

Perhaps to be resurrected for this?

I know, I know, the last thing I need is a movie script to try and market. That's even worse than trying to market the bloody novel.

I wish I could just be commercial, writing to sell, or just be an artist, and (frankly, my dear) not give a damn. But I want it all. If you know me in real life, that probably comes as no surprise.

1 comment:

Fiat Lex said...

This problem is the main reason why I stopped trying to write stories in any serious way after about eighth grade. I'd get a couple of chapters in--my personal record was about 60 handwritten pages--and get so tangled up I had no idea where to go next. So I just kind of shifted my attention to songwriting and poetry, and stuck with those until I got much better at them.

If it's a song or a poem it's much, much easier to stay focused on it until it all holds together. They're rarely longer than a page. If you need to leave one in the drawer for six months until the idea ripens in your mind, well, it's only one piece, and you've got others. Your befuddlement isn't halting the progress of all your work until you get past it, the way it would with a novel.

My dad always said that good outlining was a way around it. You'd have your major and minor plot threads, and plot them out in a kind of graph that showed rising and falling action the way you imagined it in your mind. Then you'd come up with a specific bullet-style outline based on the graph. Then you'd write your scenes. But he always seemed happier telling us all parts of the story from different angles, setting out scenes verbally and seeing us react, than actually sitting down at a keyboard to do the hard part.

It all sounded pretty neat, but I never tried it myself. Dunno if he did, either. Man never finished his novel, alas--the draft is still sitting in a file cabinet right next to me. A reminder to those of us who are still around to lean our noses back into the grindstone, eh?