Daily Archives: January 5, 2012

Letting the boulder take flight

My fantasy-in-progress has been stuck for months, making little twitches in random directions.

It really isn’t any fault of the f-i-p. A couple of Octobers ago, I was hunting for a Nanowrimo plot, and decided it would be fun to toss together as many cliches as possible. (Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland inspired me.) Getting to the required 50000 words was easy, though the story was nowhere close to finished by November 30. So I kept pushing it along, just like Sisyphus, as it got heavier…and more awkward…..and almost……..too………….unwieldy to move at all……………

But if I abandoned the Encyclopedia of Stale Tropes plot, what sort of story would I have? Sure, I liked several of the characters and some of the scenes, but how to give them an interesting world to inhabit and something coherent to do there? A sensible person would have given up, but then I’m not sensible. I kept struggling for a plot and a theme, and the story kept lying there twitching.

When I pushed myself back to regular blogging – was it only a week ago? Yep, it was – it kind of felt like I was making a mistake. I’ve been struggling to steal time to focus on fiction writing and steal energy to focus on fiction….anyhow, clearly blogging would be a waste of my overbooked life.

So I did it anyway.

Guess what happened? Plot snarls that have been tangled around my ankles for months unknotted themselves and slunk away, or turned themselves into decorative bows perched on top of chunks of story background. All of a sudden, the fantasy-in-progress works; I know what kind of people (for a loose definition of people) should inhabit it, what kind of world they live in, what they want and fear, and how they can struggle with each other trying to fix things. And what they’ll do when they see how their struggles turn out.

I guess this is what writing exercises are good for. (Yes, I’m the last would-be writer in captivity to figure that out.) Apparently spending time writing anything wakes up the underground part of your mind that solves problems, including plot problems.

It’s not Sisyphus’ uphill boulder any more. I don’t know about anyone else, but the f-i-p has turned into a story I want to read. I’d better hurry up and write it.