Thursday, August 9, 2007

Once Upon a Time

The time has finally come. The players are set, and today I move my first pawn.

My novel has a rich and interesting back-story, so I have decided to start in the past — pre media res, if you will. For weeks I've been trying to find a way to weave this back-story into the narrative, but finally I've just given up and decided to tell the whole story chronologically. I'll either discover that this was the right move, or I'll find out where my story really wants to begin. Either way, there's no use staring at a blank piece of paper for more weeks on end.

Besides, I'm excited about these earlier events and want to write about them, and as I said in this long post about my progress as a plot writer, my mind seems to want to think about my story this way anyway — that is, visually and by just diving in and exploring the territory, especially the characters.

Though I do have the bones of a plot, I'm planning on letting my characters have the final say about it.

My partner, who has about 17 U.S. patents and has proven himself to be very capable of being creative at will, tells me that this is the process of keeping your target fairly wide in the early stages of being creative. It's still a target that you choose — don't get me wrong about that — but it's wide enough that you actually have a reasonable chance of hitting it as you proceed through all of the unknowns that lie ahead. I think he's right. So far, my attempts to lay down a very specific, step-by-step plot at the outset has felt like a kind of rationalistic exercise for me, because it requires a certain kind of omniscience about a terrain that I haven't yet tread.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.

Expect light blogging for a while — possibly a long while — especially if my story takes flight. Or maybe I should say, if it catches on fire.


Mark said...

Hey Toiler -- don't be surprised if one of two things happen:

1) you discover a whole new novel in the backstory, or
2) after you've written 20,000 words of the history, you end up turning it into a 500-word prologue.

Of course, I hope that doesn't happen , but, you know, it's happened to others...

Keep up the good work!

Toiler said...

Thanks, Mark!

Either option you mention would be perfectly fine with me. I wouldn't mind chopping off 15,000 words if it helps me find my way.

Fortunately I never tire of editing, which is said to be rare among writers for some reason.

Jennifer Snow said...

You sound like me, I thought I had the beginning of my novel straightened out, but once I got close to the end of the first chapter I realized I needed more beginning.

I'm MUCH happier with the way the first chapter looks now, though, but I still have to type it, and it's not in order in my notebook, which makes it look quite odd.