Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Second Problem of Writing

A long, long time ago, in a post about my story now far removed by time and distance, I once mentioned the difficulties of creating a convincing sequence of events.

My goal then was to finish that story by the end of last year.

Through great negligence and lack of industry on my part, however, I’m still working on the same story, the first volume of my fantasy series. I’m not much further along than I was in November.

I've done some other writing and made progress in other areas in the meantime, including book reviews for this blog. I'll be posting more reviews in the next couple of weeks—two for newly released novels by Davis Bunn, and another for Implosion by Joel C. Rosenberg. Still, I haven't gotten much done on my own book.

Anna reached the end of her journey to Winallwy, arrived safe at the castle with the secret treasure, and then promptly froze because she didn’t know what to do with it or whom she should give it to. In fact, it seems that the story has gone backwards since then. I’ve had doubts about whether Anna actually reached Winallwy, or whether the secret treasure at the center of her journey is really the “secret treasure”—always hard to decide, considering I don’t claim even now to know what the “secret treasure” is.

Such is the writer’s life, especially when the writer starts into a novel without sufficient planning.

And such being the case, I’ve not posted much about my story in recent months. I’ve given it the silent treatment (metaphorically speaking), beaten my head against the wall a few times, and even tried to start one or two new drafts of the story.

I made a new attempt at that last night and wrote the first 400 words to a new opening scene. We’ll see if it lasts.

All this leads me back to the second major problem implicit in developing a convincing sequence of events (sometimes known as a story). I described the first in a February post about dead verbage. The second, namely, is that in order to write a story, it is necessary to know what the story is about.

Perhaps that should be known as the first major problem of writing?

It’s really easy to have an idea, a dream. It’s not so easy to turn that dream into reality. Sometimes it’s not fun even when the dream turns out to be the reality—Anna is finding that out for herself at the moment.


“The road grew clearer as they went along—in a few places, the old paving stones broke above the sandy crust—but twice before nightfall, the ravines cut across their track.

“Both times, when they scrambled down the steep sides, it took them nearly twenty minutes and a half-mile detour before they could clamber out. Then they came up again into the wind and straggled back to the road, picking their way over rutted trails. Once, Mitka started to fall behind, until they stopped and waited while Lug helped her up the last slope. The others were dragging as well, when Liegenor finally paused and told them they could make camp.”


I’ve set a new goal now—to finish this story by the end of the summer. I only need to redo the 20+ chapters I’ve written so far and finish up a dozen more.

It'll be easy once I figure out what the story is about.

So now, where were we headed again?

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