Sunday, March 30, 2014

Writing Into A Box

I love the beginning of a novel.  The possibilities are endless.  I can see lines of confluence and strange spasms of imagination everywhere.  I've often said that I only outline to a certain point because the story has to remain fluid.  There needs to be wiggle room that allows what you want to say to evolve past the rigid limits of an outline, and that's part of the mystery and fun of writing.

Unfortunately, there can be a downside to this.  If a writer isn't careful, he can write himself into a corner, and getting out of this corner can involve a great deal of pain.

I think this is what happened in Canidae.  I didn't take sufficient care in the work and just allowed it to meander wherever my mind took it.  The result was that I found a story that borders on absurd.  Don't get me wrong - there are many elements that will remain in the final product, but I've got a lot more to re-create than I have to save.

The painful part of this process is that I'm going to have to go back and re-write a bunch of stuff.  I'll need to locate where things went wrong and start from there.  I have a feeling that will happen closer to the beginning of the novel than to the end.

This is why taking a breath to evaluate your work is so important.  Don't get me wrong - I believe in Stephen King's advice that you should write the first draft for you.  However, don't get so caught up in it that you have to spend a good deal of time and angst in rewriting large chunks of it down the road.  Step back and ask yourself if it's working.  It's true that this is much easier done after you've put your writing away for a few months and can look at it with fresh eyes, but that doesn't mean it can't be done at all.  Just look at it from the perspective of a reader and ask, Does the story make sense, or has this jumped the shark?

Remember that weeds grow as quickly as new paths to your book, but if they overrun the garden, you lose anything usable.

No comments:

Post a Comment