hurry up! slow down! hurry up! slow down!
yesterday morning, i hit a minor wall as i finished a small scene. i found myself stumped as to how to pick up with the next one. it wasn’t that i didn’t know what was next, but i was looking at all the content i have mapped out for myself, still to write, and not focusing on the next step.
since unexpectedly passing the word count goal this week, i’ve felt a growing desire to hurry up and finish it, as if the numbers were somehow an accurate reflection of the depth and quality of the story i wanted to write. now, that’s a little pessimistic; i am excited about the ending, particularly, as it is a final confrontation on a scale unprecedented by the main character’s experience so far. it’s also a kick-butt hunt and fight, with plenty of tension, intensity and surprise.
or, at least, that’s what i’m envisioning.
so, i really want to right it. it’s thrilling, it’s exciting, it’s dynamic, and, for me, writing action seems to flow easily. there’s a momentum and energy in it that i experience directly as i write it, giving me constant jolts as i go and pushing me along. sometimes pulling, actually, when i can’t write fast enough.
and as i sat in front of the half-written page, thinking this, i suddenly had a terrible thought: if the author wants to just jump to the end, wont’t the reader? i mean, if i am distracted writing this ‘other stuff’ in between, how could my audience fail to feel the same way? i liken it to the difference between a great teacher and a passable one: the great teacher inspires and holds attention throughout, a passable one provides ‘necessary’ information and moves steadily towards each point. am i the passable teacher?
this consideration caused a series of cascading negative thoughts, each building upon the same concerns. before they overwhelmed me, though, i walked away. i left it for about an hour, and did other things to get my mind completely away. in this case, that initially entailed dying repeatedly at Morrowind (yes, i’m still playing it, and no, i haven’t reached either of the expansions yet), and then six and a half hours of contract work.
however, when i finally returned to the page last night, i told myself i had to write. so i did. i found the hook into the next step of the ‘other stuff’ and proceeded to finish the day’s 3 page quota, plus a little. i didn’t jump to the end. this was partially stubbornness, i’ll admit. i spent considerable effort on that outline, revising and revising and revising, until it felt right. i finally sat on it for a bit and it still looked good, felt right, complete, so i started writing. does this mean the outline is perfect? certainly not. does it mean i can’t change my mind? certainly not (and i already have about a few things). however, i have faith in my original vision.
the ‘other stuff’ i’ve been referring to may not be the most gripping and intense scenes in the book, but they’re not supposed to be. without giving it away, i think this story will work best with the proper balance between the ‘mundane’ and the ‘fantastical’. each of those words have connotations (boring and cool, respectively), but something i’ve discovered in my own approach, particularly with this book, is my need to be grounded in what i write. i am intrigued by the logical extensions of fantasy; i’ve always wondered about the places beyond where traditional fantasy stories end. i’ll admit i’m not the most creatively imaginative individual, not by a long shot, but i’m fascinated by the why’s and how’s as well as the what’s. mostly, though, i’m interested in how people, real people, might deal (or not deal) with the most outrageous of approaching realities.
so, to bring this meandering post back to its point (which was?), i’m committed to the ‘other stuff’ as deeply as i am to the pyrotechnics. the ‘other stuff’ is as important as the fights and the battles, and it makes those overt events that much more powerful. i’ve been able to refocus myself and i’m excited to find the best execution of these intermediary final scenes. i forget where i read it or who wrote it – perhaps i hear it at ReaderCon this year – but someone said/wrote about finding the most interesting, unusual, effective ways of writing scenes. the basic content of all stories is essentially the same; it’s the delivery or adornment of those stories, and of the individual scenes, that makes some stories more memorable and engaging than the rest.
that’s what i’m shooting for, anyway.