Monday, June 25, 2012

The Twisted Trail

Getting lost can be its own reward. Yesterday, I went with a friend on a walk through Shevlin Park. There are several trails I'd wanted to check out, and I finally had time to do so. Except our five mile walk turned into nearly twice that due to some faulty trail side maps (or my poor sense of direction.) But instead of bemoaning our fate, my friend and I enjoyed the woods, taking in the blue sky, the cooling breeze, and the lush greenery despite the high desert. 

The quickest path between two points is a straight line, but sometimes the most enjoyable path can be a curled and twisted trail. 

When I start writing a book, I know how it begins and how it ends. I try to have a vague understanding of how the middle will play out, but more often than not the characters develop their own story as they go. I'd like to think I'm in command of my fiction, but the truth is I'm not. Whether one could attribute the confusion to the voices in my head or the creative process is up to debate. (grin) But the fact is, I've often tried to outline my work, only to have to scrap chapters or redo my efforts when the story just isn't working--because the characters don't like it. 

Sounds crazy, but I've written enough to know what works for me and what doesn't. So I look for those shortcuts which actually take me longer to travel, and in the doing, I mine creative gems amidst the journey. I'm a pantser with a dash of plotter. A storyteller who lets her fingers fly and reads whatever lands on the page. A fun and surprising way to write, for sure.

My deep thoughts on for a Monday morning. Now, time for coffee...


John Schmidt said...

"I know how it begins"


If I pick a starting point for a story then after a few days a Voice starts saying, "bla bla Ms. H., bla bla Mr. P. Hey! You never bothered to explain how Mr. P happened to be there at the right time to meet the charming Ms. H."

So then there has to be a chapter about where Mr. P came from. And then a Voice says, "You know, Mr. P would not have met Ms. H except for what the evil Ms. K. did to Mr. P."

So then there has to be a chapter about Ms. K. Voice: "Weeell...Ms. K. was put into her orbital trajectory towards Mr. P by Mr. M."

And so on.

It is fun when The Voice keeps alerting me to these little digressions, but after a while I have to stop listening to The Voice and decide where the story is really going to start. Then The Voice says something like, "Jerk. Coward. Wimp."

Do you ever really know where a story begins or do you just not allow yourself to think about alternative starting points?

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, you and Trudy got lost? LOL. I thought you were taking the Deschutes River Trail. Well, I'm happy to know you enjoyed yourselves just the same and no one had to send out a search party. :)

I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, but I really should plot more. I tend to plot 3 chapters ahead as I write and that works well for me, but it's kinda slow. However, if I plotted the whole thing I'd feel like i had to stick with it even when it wasn't working, and that's a bad thing. It's just how my story brain works. Ugh. I certainly agree with you about having to know the characters first before planning out their story lives, and I don't get to know mine until i actually write them.

Great blog post!