Writing is a way of life, really. I don’t like writing, it’s painful, frustrating, it takes me away from family, it makes me angry when it isn’t going well, it’s awful really. But once I’m done with something I feel like I have to jump in and do it again. I like the pain I suppose. As it stands, I’ve got a half drafted fantasy novel that I’m considering abandoning – this year’s nano – if I can’t re-outline it into something I like better. Right now it’s a bunch of people wondering around and saying, “Hey, this whole world is really weird,” and “Man, we can totally do magic! That doesn’t make any sense.”
Yep, that’s hard core storytelling right there. Especially since these people aren’t visiting this fantasy world, but actually supposed to be living on that world. Ugh.
|Easy mistake to make, happens all the time. But that isn't the Invincible Sword of Leboria - that's Glagnar's toothpick.|
Part of it must have something to do with world building, or a lack thereof, I started thinking about my teeny little village that was cut off from the larger world and everyone carrying weapons. Well, that means they had to have a forge, and ore, and something to keep the fires burning hot (lots of trees, maybe coal). Ooh, then I thought of a guy with poor eyesight, then that led to optics, and glass blowing, oh, and don’t get me started about clothing, do they have wool? No, I decided, only cows and pigs… so they wear lots of leather. But then I started thinking of home construction, if they are iron poor (which they are), then they don’t have lots of nails, and if they don’t have nails, do they also have iron hinges (yes, I decided, they will). Is that significant? I have no idea. But I spent too much time figuring that stuff out as I wrote. What do I mean, figuring it out as I wrote? Let me explain by using some (made up) example.
“But Ragon can’t be the town’s only Smith, what if he were injured? Or he died?”
“I know,” Platt said, “but it’s true. We can’t support another Smith, the apprenticeship takes too long, and we need all the able bodied men to help with the harvest.”
Julie frowned. “But the harvest isn’t all year round, surely someone could apprentice for much of the year, and then help in harvest time. It doesn’t make any sense to go without.”
It was Platt’s turn to frown now. He hadn’t seen the poor logic before then. “You’re right. There is no reason for Ragon to be toiling away without an apprentice. He must be hiding something, making up lies in order to continue working in secret.”
Oh, I can’t write anymore. It’s awful. Now imagine approximately 200 pages of what I’m now calling “plotting through dialog,” which is what happens when I chuck my outline, or even follow it, but miss a major plot hole, which gets discovered during my extended character interactions. I’ll just write it out and move on, and come back later to fix. But when more and more of the time spent writing is really just me plotting, or figuring out the world building, then I know I have a problem, I’ve not thought my story out well enough.
So, that’s where I’m at with that. I do think I’m going to give the novella I wrote late in the summer another editing pass. It’s that one I’ve complained about intermittently that starts as an epistolary tale before sliding into a traditional first person narrative. The problem I’ve been having is I like both methods of storytelling in general, and in particular, I think both serve to help me tell the story I want to… but something about putting the two together, unintentionally, bothers me. I don’t know, maybe it’s like the discovery of penicillin, or a peanut butter and chocolate thing… serendipity that leads to greatness.