Thursday, October 16, 2008


I've got a short story I've been tinkering with and tweaking, lately. One of the side-characters comes across particularly well, and the folks I've shown the early drafts to really like her and think she's pretty neat, but that she doesn't have a lot to do in the story.

My main thought, then, is, "Well, I'll give her more to do in order to justify her place in the story." Simple, right?

Some of my fellow writers, though, have suggested, "You could always just cut her and use her for a different story, instead."

And for some reason, that feels really weird to me. Intellectually, I know that if I pulled her from Story A and placed her in Story B, nobody (well, nobody who hadn't read any drafts) would know that I'd done it, and if I did it right, her place in the new story would be fine and natural and dandy.

Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to try something like that. In this particular case, though, I'm trying to get the character to work for the story she's already in, trying to justify her existence in that special way that we writers so often have to.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Affliction

After finishing a first draft of my most recent story (the one with the weird narrative structure that I mentioned earlier), I was all set to go back and edit and retool some of my other recent works that are in desperate need of such editing and retooling.

...except that, well, on Friday morning, during my commute into work, I got hit with the spark.

Yes, out of nowhere, I was hit with the idea for another new story, and over the next twenty minutes, as I went on with the rest of my commute, the ideas grew and congealed, and...

Yeah, I ended up with a full-on story idea, and I knew that I had to write it or it would drive me crazy.

Luckily, I knew it was going to be a short story, so I devoted my lunch break Friday, my free time later on and most of my free time Saturday to working on it, and now that it's just past midnight, I've managed to churn out a pretty tight first draft.

My first impression is that I'm happy with it (which, as a writer, always makes me wary). I'll probably tool with it for the rest of the weekend before finalizing it. In many ways, it's just a silly little thing, so I don't want to spend too much time on it when I've got other things to work on.

Still, for a quick story that came literally out of nowhere, I'm glad that it happened to me.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Creative Control (and lack thereof)

A surprising number of short stories have been popping out of my head and onto the page, lately. This means a bit of a delay in my eventual return to novel-writing, but I'm mostly happy just to be writing. The majority of these stories are for publications and other things that have deadlines; most of them are going to require additional drafts, too. I'm happier with some of them than I am with others, but if it's any consolation to myself, the ones I'm happiest with are the ones I personally consider the most important.

I'm working on another story right now that's actually intriguing me a fair bit in that I'm not sure what I'm doing with it.

Allow me to explain: I don't mean to say that I don't know where to take it or don't know how I want to write it--I literally mean that I'm doing something with the actual writing and I'm not entirely sure what it is.

It's something artistic. Probably artistic, at any rate. It's something I doing with the narrative structure. I'm just not sure how to define it. I mean, I'm doing it on purpose, and I have a feel for what the nebulous 'something' is, but I can't put it into tangible terms, even inside my own head. It's just kind of happening as I will it to, in a subtle way, and whatever it is I'm doing, it's making it out onto the page.

When I go back and rewrite the earlier parts of the story, I hope I can keep it up, since I appear to be getting better at this 'something' the deeper into the story I get. Which, in and of itself, is kind of neat. It also furthers my belief that the compulsion to write really is something beyond a writer's control, even down to the actual stylistic level at times.

I hope it all makes sense and sounds good once it's finished. To someone other than me, I mean.

Oh, and there's another review I found of Thousand Leaves here. It's mostly pretty positive, if somewhat lacking in focus at times.