16 November, 2013

Following Instincts

The book is going great. Great I tell you! At this point, given my lack of posting, there's a chance you won't care, but who cares!? Me. And hopefully you. Wait... this paragraph didn't make me feel so good after all.

Amazingly, that brings me to my point!

I've actually come to realise that, if you're following a thread of your central character's want--which is to say, if the plot is designed around that thread, not just the scenes--then you should actually avoid doing things that feel like work! It's weird. Whenever I have to think too hard, I know I'm trying to make something make sense. It's like hammering one too many pegs into a hole, naturally diminishing the acuity of the thing while trying to maintain the illusion thereof.

It actually brings to mind an Elmore Leonard quote. "If it sounds like writing, I delete it."

He was talking about prose, of course, but it resonates. If it feels like writing, if the scene sounds in my head like facilitation or fancy-pants forcing a theme into place, I should delete it and try again. It's made writing so much easier. It hasn't been this much of a joy since I first started out and had no freaking idea how to approach technique, just spilling my inspiration out without a care. (I was 12, so that innocent fun is understandable.)

It also brings to mind something my mentor, Scott Bradfield, once said to me. "You'll find it easier once you get it. That's what I found. It was certainly way easier for me."

I just hope this is because I "get it", to some extent, and not just my excitement of a new plateau. It certainly feels like I get something I've been reaching for the whole time: an intuitive understanding that allows me to write better, having given me the awareness this post is all about. I'm not saying my work will be brilliant now, but I am sharing my excitement and my hope.

To offer some advice: look out for when you're trying to cram too many issues into one area of the book. You might have lots of stuff going on. That's fine. But your character has to want something specific, one thing at a time. That's how stories evolve.