Thursday, July 5, 2012

Writing Advice (3): Start to Finish


This week’s post is inspired by some writing advice shared by my cousin, Nathan. As a novice writer himself, he has shared some tips that I wish to share with you.

1. Start at the begining.

2. Begin with the end in mind.

Everyone writes differently. Some people love charts, outlines, post-its, etc. For me, I like to write from beginning to end. Occasionally, I will write scenes that go in between, but once I arrive at those parts, I realize the scenes are no longer relevant. I never make outlines. And when I try to use the nice layout of Scrivener, I always get distracted and just write as though it were an ordinary word document. I write best when I relinquish control and just let the scenes play out the way the characters desire.

I have learned however, and this relates to what Nathan says, that even if you don’t really know where the story might go, the end objective should be clear. You can’t know where to start until you know where you’re going.

I’ve started a number of stories with an unclear ending in mind. Turned out the contemporary novel I was writing about young love was really an adventure novel about people with extra sensory powers. Result—I had to start over. 

So, I recommend pinpointing your end goal. This doesn’t mean know the ending. We can’t know who will win or lose, live or die. Circumstances and scenes have a way of going their own direction. But we can know and should know whether we intend for our protagonist to wind up at her high school prom or find herself abducted by aliens. Because if you want aliens, you had better at least write one or two scenes foreshadowing the possible presence of extra terrestrials.

Here’s the thing though…writing like life is full of twists and turns. We don’t plan for things to happen but that doesn’t stop them from happening. We might know that we want to go to school to study nursing. That may be the objective, but once we get there, we may discover that is not the right choice for us after all. We might decide that Character A is going to fall in love with Character B, but be blind sided when Character C wins their heart instead.

In essence, we can’t predict the ending. But we can create a goal. What the goal will provide isn’t an end but a start.

People may die. Battles may be lost. Don’t change these outcomes just because they throw off your end result. They are life happening on its own course. Let it. Roll with the punches. Go to the mattresses.

In conclusion, and this will be the focus of next week's post, writing is not a science. Write the way that works for you. But a straight path is always easier to walk through than a labyrinth. 

1 comment:

  1. Great advice; thanks so much for sharing :) I just found your blog and will definitely be following it from now on! I recently added some summer reading lists to my new blog if you want to take a look:
    Thanks again!


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