Saturday, August 25, 2018


I have yet to start a story whose breadth and depth I fully understood before the first word was drafted. Nor have I ever been aware of the personalities, beliefs, and activities of all the characters the story would embrace.  Instead I start the process with only a vague idea of the general background and details that may be added later as I navigate the path to the epiphany, punchline, or conclusion (altho occasionally said conclusion follows the epiphany.)

Instead, I embark on a path of discovery, bumbling from one scene to the next, jumping to a different idea, haring down paths less than fruitful, and striking whole volumes of narrative exposition for their  mind-numbing detail.  Sometimes the story's path ahead seems clear but more often the steps it takes to reach that is an indeterminate fuzz whose clarity most often comes at a cost of plot or pace.

Unless you are extremely organized and have the ability to stick to a predetermined outline you will record your journey of discovery with a jumble of assorted notes that beg to be assembled into something that resembles a story.  I usually arrange my scenes/sketches on a time line. This usually  reveals temporal gaps that will need to be filled with some indication of time's passing.  Another approach is to arrange the scenes emotionally through the use of flashback or prolepsis (e.g. flashforward).  Playing with viewpoint might yield another series of scenes.  Eventually, through successive experiments* I find an arrangement that seems to look like a story e.g. with the pieces that feel like the right** order.

From there it is merely a matter of enforcing consistency, grinding the scenes' edges to fit, and pounding whatever words it takes to made the story flow properly.

But then, isn't that what writing is all about?

* I use Scrivener to make rearranging easier.

** This is largely a matter or personal taste 


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