Writer’s something or other

I began work on a new story, but it hit the buffers very quickly. I suspect that there were several reasons for this, but probably the primary reason is that it was the wrong story at the wrong time. Having published ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’ and feeling a little flat afterwards, I took the conventional advice to get stuck into writing again immediately and, thinking that I knew exactly which story I wanted to write (out of my lists of ideas, notes and vague drafts), and exactly how the opening chapters of said story should go, just jumped straight in and started writing.

Thud.

After the first, long, chapter I read it back and just thought ‘Oh good grief, this is so turgid!’

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I didn’t feel like re-writing it, though. And I certainly didn’t feel like ploughing on and editing an even longer clump of turgidity later. It just wasn’t working for me.

It simply wasn’t the story that I wanted to tell at the moment. It wasn’t the setting that I wanted to use, and I didn’t feel any empathy with the protagonist. Not a good start, really.

So I kicked the cat* and drank a few beers and went for a long walk.

As a result of doing all of that and clearing my head somewhat,  I am now trying out something that is almost alien for me, and that is planning a novel.

I have a setting that I have been meaning to use in a novel, and which I have used occasionally in short stories, which I enjoy writing about. I have characters with whom I can empathise. I even have a plot that I’m rather pleased with. All in all, it feels a lot more hopeful.

And something else that is rather fun: in ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile’ I had to create a fictitious town and village, but because of the story line I did not need to concern myself too much with the geography of either. For the new Work In Progress, I need much more. I need careful and elaborate maps of a fictitious town in the foothills of northern India (yup, India again!), which is all part of the plan. I need to map its roads and houses, shops and hotels. I need to decide where to put the forests and rivers and lakes and fields.

I’ve even started a brand new notebook for this!

It will probably be difficult for me to resist the temptation to just start writing, but at the moment I intend to wait until I have a finished plan that I think covers everything.

Naturally, I’ll let you know how it goes.

*Not actually true. No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

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35 thoughts on “Writer’s something or other

  1. This sounds very promising! Don’t worry about the single, abandoned chapter – I have loads of those all over the place. That story will have its time at some point, no doubt. The plotting and the planning, the thinking and the feeling – that’s the really fun bit! Take your time and relish it. I shall join you in the beer, although might move on to a glass of red afterwards as too much beer makes me bloated. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m sure it will get resolved at some point, Lucy. It’s still a story I want to write – sometime. Yes, enjoying the planning at the moment. I’m currently just moving a lake a few kilometres to somewhere more suitable. Now that’s something you don’t get to do everyday!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This post made me smile. I wrote my first book as a pantser and after that became a planner. I do exactly what you are doing now…getting to know the land, the characters, the plot…making maps, visualizing, listening, making notes as the story grows in my head. I go as far as writing bios for the main characters and a history/lore of the area. Then the writing comes much more easily 🙂 Good luck with the new book!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nothing cures what ails you like a few pints and a long walk (not necessarily at the same time…) I didn’t plan out my first book as I started writing, but I found out how helpful it was about halfway through when I had to go back and rewrite a big chunk of it. You won’t regret it, Mick. Best of luck and cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just been listening to a radio interview with Eowyn Ivey and she was talking about the importance, to her, of allowing characters – as they come alive within the writing process – to alter the plot in subtle ways she’d not envisaged in the planning stages. She in fact said this was the most exciting part of the process for her, and that when it happened it told her she’d created a ‘real’ character. I thought that was interesting, but you’ve possibly heard something similar elsewhere, Mick. I don’t write fiction myself so this sort of information is all new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, they always do that, Hariod. Up to now, I’ve generally just poured characters into a story and let them just get on with it. I then record what happens (well, sort of). I’ve no doubt that my characters will do their best to alter what I have planned for them.

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  5. Think of it this way: planning is like pantsing, only big picture. Now you can have fun two ways: big picture creativity and filling in the vignettes. Three, maybe, if you count the new directions the vignettes will push you.

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  6. I think you were smart not to try to “force” writing the first story idea. As you say, it is just not the time for that particular one. But good for you for immediately finding another one to write, and to try writing it in a new way. Personally, I used to resist planning a novel, but once I started doing that, I found the process quite enjoyable! Best of luck to you in this new venture!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bysuesway

    I can so relate myself here. Had me imagining myself. I had my bulky share of abandoned chapters and still have some more. But yet, I will keep trying and so should you 😊
    All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Look…. it has to be different for everyone doesn’t it? You cant read a manual and get direction on it, as its something that flows from within you . When its right and it feels right you wont be able to stop yourself. You will have to write because it will hurt if you don’t. Don’t listen to others – do what is right for you, regardless. And if you cant write today or tomorrow, then you will maybe next week or next month. The main thing is to do it when its right.. not when you THINK its right
    there – thus endeth the lesson from “a know all, know F all ! ” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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