Monday, July 09, 2012


The Eye of the Future is looking ahead at what will
be written. The rest are watching you. Image from here.
It used to be that I'd open up a new file to write in when I had an idea or just a single image in mind for a story. I'd be all het up to go pound at the keys with no real idea where the story would take me. I've learned that in the business this is called 'pantsing'.

It was one of the things that held me back as a writer.

I'd get knee deep into the story, a little less than halfway I'd say, and I would either write myself into a corner or have no idea what to do next. I'd get frustrated and stop working on the story for a while, come back to it and have no idea what I was trying to do.

Because I had no idea in the first place.

It seems so simple to remember that every story has three components: Beginning, Middle, and End. Right? Yet it's the one thing that I would forget every time I had an idea. Every. Single. Time.

So I've had to put some controls in my head that will help me be the writer I'm supposed to be. When I come up with an idea or an image, I write it down and leave it alone. I may think about it and think - "This is an opening, what's the ending?" or I may think "What's the middle?"

See, because I need two out of three in order to write the story well. I never come up with endings. Or at least I don't think of them as endings. I have a problem where I start my stories too early, usually because of the image I've come up with as the opening and that image isn't necessarily the beginning. It's the seed, though; backstory in all likelihood.

And that's the next step, once I've got a beginning and ending, I have to backfill enough to know why the character's doing what he's doing and a secret he doesn't want anyone else to know.

I didn't used to think about these things and I don't know why. Every book on how to write good stories tells you these things. What's changed that I'm paying such close attention now?

I have not one clue. No idea. Something's clicked, though, and I intend to keep those gears working, keep them well-oiled and turning.

For now, my ideas folders are getting bigger. They're filling up with a snatch of dialogue or the barest hint of a beginning. It's the ends and the middles that are getting written in more often. My head apparently has to percolate things to the point of being fully brewed.

I don't feel like I'm being held back by a lack of ideas. No, rather it's the execution of those ideas that's the challenge these days. Some of them are way beyond me and I know it now because I don't have everything I need to even begin planning some of the things I've written down.

Dunno if this makes sense or not, but it's how things are working in my head these days. If you have a different approach, please take a bit of time and let me know how you do it. That little peek behind the curtains of other writers is always interesting.

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