The Pen and the Sword

I think I like writing. I think I am a very slow writer. I think I have some creative and interesting character ideas. I think I really suck at plot development. I think my forte is humor even though I would much rather be a good dramatic writer.

An acquaintance of mine actually up and wrote a novel one summer, a novel that I got to read and proof. I liked it, although I was not so fond of his short choppy style of writing (heh, I tend to flow if ya hadn’t noticed. Master of the comma, right here!) but to each their own. The thing that impressed me the most about the entire project was that he said to himself “I want to write a novel” and he up and did it.

I wanna write a novel! I have some ideas too but most of my planning goes something like “OK, the characters get an inheritance, and then they find out that it’s all cursed stuff, and then something happens and in the end they all get sucked into a hell dimension”. It’s that “and then something happens” that kills me. I tend to think in scenarios and I have some good opening stuff, and some good middle stuff and some good ending stuff but poor glue to make it all come together. Add sub plots and I’m a goner. Oi!

I’m also terrible at outlines. I’m just incapable of doing it, like I Suck Enormous Rocks at it so badly that my mind does the “WahhhhAHHHH! Ooo, shiny things over here to think of” dance every time I try to sit my ass down and construct an outline. I never turned in an outline for either of my term papers in High School and all my college papers I crafted entirely up in my noggin. Actually, that’s a really scary thought. ANYWAY, I think writing would go a lot easier if I could learn to outline because I’m always losing little cool bits of sub plots left and right. I suppose an outline would contain those bits and wrangle them into an ordered fashion.

The other problem I have is detail. I have an interesting idea about the whats and why fors of religion set in a fantasy world but the problem is that said world lives entirely in my head. It has for years. So has the story but I haven’t written anything about it because I feel I need to take the time to know my world. It needs to have a physical reality which means I need to make maps (and maps that make sense geologically, not just ‘hey, look, I made some continents). I need to have towns and trade routs and nations defined. I need to know the cultural aspects of my peoples. I need to know the religious nuances of my peoples. I need to define a pantheon! Creation myths! Heroes, lore, gossip, history. My world has a history. Damn, I could write an entire encyclopedia on the stuff I need to know about my world before I can start writing about it and that’s pretty daunting.

Yeah, I should just shut up and begin writing but I know that somewhere in the story I’ll forget something. Then whoever is reading it will get jerked out of their suspension of disbelief with a “Wait, wasn’t Hillstown upriver from Quaint town? How can the characters be drifting on the river to Hillstown if Hillstown is up river? That makes no sense.” I don’t want to be that kind of writer. I would much rather be a writer who knows what’s going on in their own world but man, the work involved in creating a world seems immense. It’s one of my largest blocks to just sitting down and writing up my story. Maybe I ought to start with some short stories and work up from there. A novel is an awfully big chunk to bite off at first.

2 Responses to “The Pen and the Sword”

  1. kph Says:

    In case you’re curious, I’m good at the “at then this happens, and then *this* happens, and then *that* happens” aspect of writing, and Amy is good at setting mood, character, aspect, scenery. Between the two of us, we’re an excellent writer (strengths) & an abysmal writer (flaws) all scrambled up and separated into two people.

    You should try NaNoWriMo with us this November. 5000 words every three days isn’t too tough. You just have to persevere. I find the hard part is trying to tie the thing off after you’ve hit 50K.

  2. boo Says:

    I was thinking of doing the NannyNannyBooBoo think this November but there is one small flaw to that plan. I’m going to be at this wedding thing on the 9th so most likely I wouldn’t have any time until after then. You know, seeings as it’s my own wedding and all.

    Last year I thought I might join in, this year I’d like to too. I might have to wait until next year though, or write really really fast from the 10th to the 30th.

    Hey! KPH? That’s pretty cool.