Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Great Realization

One would think that, having written for as long as I have (despite my youthfulness), I'd have a very deep understanding of how my writing works.  For those of you who are not privy to such amazing information, I'll let you in on my age-old secret (and by age-old, I mean my age, which is 17).

The vast majority of the time, my stories begin with one of two things: a character, or a singular plot point.  These are my "first stitches" as I heard another writer (whose name I can't remember and, I apologize, I can't give credit to).  From there, I work out more stitches, or details to the story until I have a vague idea of what's going to happen.  From there, I start where many others begin: the beginning.  I always try to start my books in a way that either gives information (such as about the M.C. or the general plot) or catches the attention of my readers (maybe by throwing them straight into the action of the story or by giving a very cool first line).

From there, I just try to work from point A to point B, which is to say, I go step by step.  "This much has happened so what's next?"  I always work in chronological order, except for those moments when I feel the urge to write a certain scene.  Even when I do write out of order, I always re-write the scene I'd previously written (referencing the original piece) so that I don't break flow with the rest of the book/chapter.

The other day (yesterday, in fact) I came to realize something that I'd been misunderstanding about my work.

In an interview I'd written for my Facebook Page (the interview can be found in my notes) I wrote the following to a question on challenge I face while writing:

"My writing challenge is not having a writing challenge.  And in that, I mean this: when I love a story - really and truly love a story - I become so attached that I can't do another project until the first is complete.  I have to see stories through until the end."

Since I wrote that line, something's been nagging at my mind, and becoming evermore vocal.  "If I can only ever stick to projects I really and truly love, does that mean that I don't really and truly love many of my stories?"
This couldn't possibly be the case, I decided.  I love a vast majority of the stories I've come up with, or I wouldn't have come up with them and I wouldn't think about them anymore (strange fact: I can completely forget ever coming up with an idea if I don't like it, and am sometimes reminded later, by people I was talking about it with, that I ever thought of it at all).

So then I had to figure it out: what is it that stops me writing?  I turned my attention to the two novels I'd completed and the one I'm focused on now: Bloodlines, Glamor, and Bloody Lovely.  What did they all have in common, beyond the fact that I truly love them?


I started to realize that Glamor, while it was fun to write, wasn't something I could actually describe as a book I "really and truly loved."  It was a fun book to write, and I enjoyed myself, don't get me wrong.  But Glamor was a play off of the classic Beauty & the Beast story, not something purely of my own creation.  The characters were brand new and I'd never worked with them before.  As it were, the fact that I was so disattached to this book threw me for a moment.  That's when it came to me: planning.

Despite the fact that I hadn't put a lot of thought or heart into Glamor, I knew where it was going to go because I knew what had happened in the original story.  I thought about the other two books.

In Bloodlines, I'd gotten very in-depth with the planning of the book.  I'd written out plans, I'd spoken with trusted writing friends about what the best twists would be in the book and I had a sheet of paper with me at all times that had a basic layout of what would happen in ever chapter of the book.  I knew what I was going to do next, because I'd figured out before I'd even begun writing.

With Bloody Lovely, Rory (LJ/Lorelai) have been working on the books' plotlines in RP form for years.  In the beginning, there's nothing that we haven't planned, unless we've chosen to change them while writing.  It's all there: it's all ready to be taken from our minds and put on paper.

And then I had it: I wasn't focused on books because I really and truly loved them; I was focused on books because I knew what I wanted to do with them.  Which, of course, isn't to say I didn't really and truly love them.  I still do truly loved Bloody Lovely, and I'm quite fond of Bloodlines and Glamor.  But that love lead to thought, and that thought lead to planning, and that planning is why I was able to write them.  It's also why I can't write any other projects.

So now I have a starting point.  Now I know what I have to do to write out stories.  I have to plan them a little more.  I have to know what I'm going to do next.  Because that gives me a place to begin, and my mind isn't wandering to the next part of another book where I know what I'm going to write.

I'm sorry to unload that on all of you guys.  I've just been a little excited that I've realized this and had to sort of vent about it and let the world know that I've finally realized my biggest problem with writing.  I hope that this unearthing will lead to the writing of a lot more novels in the future.

So, writing question:  What do you guys believe are your biggest problems with writing?

~Maddi J


  1. Great post! And great to see you posting again! I believe that my problem with my writing is it being all over the place as I can write, but sometimes I go off on tangents and although I pride myself on the planning that I put into my novels I just seem to fall when my concentration goes or is taken by a subplot etc.

    Hehe, vent all you like. I like venting!

  2. XD Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post. Best of luck in staying focused on your projects.