On writing

Once upon a time there is an angsty teenage boy who thinks he knew all about love. To teach him a lesson, Eros turns him into an animal and sends him out to challenge his belief and to find what love really is. The boy meets a grumpy old hunter who is seeking courage – the only thing he’s not brave enough to do is to live his own life for himself and take responsibility for his own choices. Together the pair follow the yellow brick road to the ruins of an emerald city, wherein lives a sorceress who they hope can give them what they lack – but she turns out to be as beautiful as she is unkind, and she … well, she does something … and the hunter tries to sacrifice himself but the boy saves him from it and helps him realize how selfish his decision was. The hunter wanted to know how to stop caring about everyone, but in the end, instead he learns how to make a choice to care about another person. And the boy learns that there is more than romantic love – there’s the kinship he feels with this grumpy old hunter, though neither will ever admit it…

… no, that just won’t work. It’s contrived and boring, and I can’t think of anything for the villain to do or any reason why she should be doing it.

This is the second year that Jill and her posse of Sparkle Sisters have taken over the house because the Celebration Marathon & Half Marathon are this morning, and I’ve retreated to a hotel for some peace and quiet. This time I’ve decided to focus on writing – more specifically, to wrestle with my demons and figure out what’s going on in my head.

And what I’m figuring out so far is that I enjoy arranging words on a page, and I think I’m good at it. (I read the writing samples that people post in the creative writing groups on Facebook, and I cringe at the blocks of simple declarative sentences with no punctuation.) But I fail utterly when it comes time to try to craft a plot worth writing about. I know all the rules and formulas for how to assemble a plot, but when I apply them to my own work, it becomes dull and lifeless and a chore to write – so how could it be any more fun to read? And, worse yet, it’s made me unkind and jaded towards most fiction out there; I can no longer read a book or watch a movie without picking it apart and assessing how much better it could have been if it had only paid better attention to narrative structure.

So I either need to figure out how to come up with clever, whimsical plots that make me eager to flesh them out into stories, or else I need to figure out how to avoid that entirely and find a reason to write that doesn’t make me have to force contrived plots onto a reader.

1 thought on “On writing”

  1. Brian Slesinsky

    I wonder if starting with the characters would help? Make up characters you like, get them into trouble, and think about how they’d get out of trouble?

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