February 4, 2012

Writing without a net

The idea for George and the Galactic Games came to me in 2004. In the days after my spark of inspiration, I outlined the story and then wrote a synopsis of every chapter. Seven years later, when I finally got around to writing the novel, it was relatively easy. Because I already knew how to proceed and what would happen at each stage of the book, it was just a matter of writing the prose to relate the story.

For the novel I'm working on now, I decided to take a different approach. I'm following Stephen King's suggestion in his book, On Writing, to start with a basic premise for the story and then letting the situation and characters dictate the plot. No outlines, no notes, no ideas of what will happen next. So when I started my second novel, I had a premise, a set of three main characters, and four important events that I wanted to happen during the course of the story. The beginning of the writing process started off well enough. I enjoyed the freedom of letting the characters and situation lead me to where I should go next, but it wasn't without it's pitfalls. I'm definitely re-writing a lot more, sometimes erasing entire sections of the story when I later discovered that it didn't work or that I had written myself into a corner.

Another problem that I'm currently having is hitting all four major events. After about three months of writing, the characters have already reached the first milestone, but I can't think of a good way to bring them to the second. I'm debating whether to abandon the second milestone or to keep thinking of how to move them from event A to event B until I've figured out a good solution.

All of this is making the writing process take longer this time around than with George and the Galactic Games, but I expected that. Regardless of what happens, I'll continue to plug along. Then I'll take what I learn from my experience and determine how I want to approach my third novel.

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