Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stretching Exercises

I just completed a decent (IMHO) 7500 word short story. What started as a single thought went from idea to finished draft in just ten days using the processes I've described elsewhere in this blog.  The effort was not very strenuous; even putting on an emotive layer and coloring in the world didn't prove that difficult. Satisfied with the result, I sent it out into the wild to find a home.

While casting about for the next story, looking at the latest ideas I'd at least written down, I realized that I could do any of those as easily, as quickly, and with an equal level of quality.  Doing the same thing in the same way does nothing to advance one's facility with the writing affliction or expand one's horizons.  Further, doing the same thing again and again might keep me from writing stories that grasp the hearts and minds of the readers,  that resonate with the human condition, and that take the reader out of themselves and into worlds of wonder.  To accomplish that I might have to step outside of my comfort zone and, perhaps, even outside of the SFF genre.

With that in mind I've started fooling with a pure plot sans content, doing research into possible McGuffins, and playing with character descriptions/viewpoints/alternatives in the hope that something useful can be glimpsed in the resulting mess.  It might be a nugget or a shining gem that comes from this exercise that will propel me to new heights.  On the other hand it may be that I'll reach some insurmountable barrier I have neither the skill nor insight to climb.  It may be that I'll finish a story but it won't be worth reading or fail to find a market (not a new experience by any means.)  For all I know I might take an abrupt right turn at some point and produce another Sam Boone -for God's sake!-- or a masterpiece.  Embarking on this without a firm goal in mind is frightening and uncomfortable, but that shouldn't stop me.

I have to try to become a decent writer.

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