Daily Archives: January 14, 2006

Click

Ahhhh. That’s helpful. Yesterday, while driving to pick up Athena from school, the last three lines of The Last Colony dropped into my brain. This is excellent news because now that I know how the story begins and how it ends, and know a couple of the big scenes that have to happen in the middle, I can start writing. This is how I tend to write fiction: Know the beginning, know the ending, know a few scenes in the middle, and everything else a huge yawning gap of “how do I connect the dots?” This allows me some chance of free-form exploration and the opportunity to capitalize on interesting stuff I’m making up as I go along, while at the same time keeping me on track (i.e., if I can’t see how I’m getting from where I am in my writing to the next big scene I know I have to hit, I’m on the wrong path).

I don’t necessarily recommend this approach for every writer. It plays to my organizational and writing strengths (or lack thereof) which include an ability to improvise plot on the fly and indeed a need to do so to keep myself from getting bored during the writing process (which would likely mean you would get bored in the reading process). Other writers, on the other hand, need an outline to feel organized and relaxed in the writing process, which will mean a better book for you in the end. I think on of them trying my approach might be as unproductive for them as me trying their approach would be for me (this is for fiction, incidentally; I can and do quite happily work from outlines in non-fiction writing). The point here being that no one way works for every writer, save the final reductive step that your process has to end with you in front of some sort of writing medium, banging out words. What’s important is that you find a process that works for you and then once you find it, you use it. This is my process. Your mileage may vary.

What’s happy about having that last scene drop into my head now is that I’m not planning to start writing The Last Colony for at least a couple more weeks — January is given over to finishing the editing of the Subterranean Magazine material (largely done, just a few tweaks) and working on Hate Mail and Utterly Useless — so it allows me some more time just to think about what’s going to happen in TLC and how I need to make it happen. I call this part “gestating”: Not writing or even thinking about writing, just thinking about story and letting casual connections happen in my brain and seeing where they lead. It’s difficult to explain to people sometimes that staring off into space and rarely blinking is indeed actually part of the work process, but isn’t that like being a writer for you. The reward is when, as with the TLC ending, something drops in with a big, obvious click, and then suddenly the inevitable task of writing suddenly becomes a lot easier.

Anyway, off to gestate some more. And to edit. And to, uh, spend time in the real world, too. Have a good rest of your weekend. I’ll see you on Monday.