Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Untitled Mess So Far

So far I've restrained myself from talking about my general work, instead using one example from my past in order to outline some of the features regarding writing, and novel writing in particular.  From time to time, however, I'd like to talk about work I haven't done yet, since development is an important part of being a writer.  It is probably the least spoken element of writing, since writers in general do not like to talk about their work until it is accomplished.

I have experienced, in the past, a reluctance to continue projects that I have spoken about prior to writing.  If something has only a chapter or two written, and I talk about it, there is a distinct lack of motivation for moving forward.  It may be that, having given out the story, I feel less inclined to 'tell the story again.'  It may be that the expression of the listener has convinced me subconsciously that it isn't worth continuing.  Or it may be that once I've said the thing out loud, I've realized myself that it was never that great an idea.

I used to call this "killing the muse."  For some ten years now I have rigidly kept to a practice of not talking about my best projects before writing out the first draft.  Once the first draft is written, in toto, I have found there's no danger in talking about it.  I do not feel kept from working on the second draft.

I think every writer likes to talk about their work, even the work they haven't finished yet.  Writing can feel like having lightning in a bottle.  I have this GREAT idea, and I want to tell everyone!  I believe every writer feels that ... and I believe that most writers come to the same conclusion as me.  Don't open the bottle, or else you will have only an empty bottle.

Still, there are ideas I have thought about for ages, which I think are good ideas, but which I doubt I will ever actually write.  They occur to me, I turn them over and over in my mind, I structure out the characters and contemplate a workable theme.  I think up an opening and organize a plot, but then I don't like that plot and I find myself organizing another.  And another, and another.  And the story never gets written.

There is one that I believe I have nailed down to some degree, but I still have yet to write a word.  I also do not have a title, none of the characters are named and I don't have a theme beyond the least complicated sort, such as "don't die."  And yet I have a setting I like, an opening, a general sense of how the characters will interact with each other and a good first climax.  I don't have an ending, however, and you can't write a story without an ending.  Believe me, if you don't know where you're going, you won't know how to get there and the story is going to wander horribly.  I know many authors who say publically that they didn't know where their books were going when they started, that they "let the characters lead them" ... and yes, the books wander horribly.  Generally, I don't finish them.

One day I'm going to be walking and an ending is going to hit me, and I may actually start writing.

The details aren't important.  The idea centers around five jaded adventurers who find themselves in a town as it is being abandoned by the townsfolk, who are loading everything they have into carts to flee an oncoming army.  The adventurers do not flee.  They find a public house with a remaining inventory and contemplate the value of staying alive.  They view cruelty differently, and upon catching a scout for the approaching army they interrogate him differently.  They find a squad of forty humanoid invaders and dispatch them with some ease.  They identify a significant arm of the approaching force in the distance, debate the logic of remaining, and then take note when a large, impossibly huge flying creature drops inconveniently close to them.  This is more or less the pace of the novel as I imagine it.

In a sense, it robs some of the framework of The Wild Bunch, except that I don't see these characters suffering from a lack of education.  Nor do I see them being motivated by the usual stuff, children and innocent people and friendships.  I'd like to dig into a deeper theme about staying alive when its irrational to court death, but I haven't worked that out yet.  And, as I said, I don't have an ending.

I'll keep the reader posted, however.

No comments:

Post a Comment