Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finding The Story

Stories are found things...relics...

Once upon a time, I started a novel, dumped it after sometime and started all over again...only to dump the second version (pretty much permanently) and rewind to the original version. Why? Because the original story elements wouldn't leave me alone. Why again? Because there is a reason behind this (which I didn't realize only until recently).

After returning to the original version of said novel, I've been struggling A LOT with it from Chapter 4 onward. Let me decrypt that. By "struggling", I mean that I wrote scenes that did practically nothing to move the story forward, only to chop them off, backtrack and then do it all over again.

It's like doing a step dance from writer-hell (wait, a céilidh dance?), where I go two steps forward but one and a half steps backward. Then after a while of doing that dance, I took a step back from the novel and asked myself: what the hell* are you trying to do? And this was when I had something of a light bulb moment: I'm trying to find the story.

More specifically, I'm trying to find the true form of the story, not just a phantom of that story. And for that, I have to be willing to explore uncertain avenues and dig in unlikely places.

As of now, I don't know the whole story. I know what kind of story I want to tell (or at least I think I know) and I know some of its core elements. But I don't know all of its core elements. And this is what I'm really trying to do: find the missing elements so that I can connect the dots and draw the whole picture.

And lo and behold, the brilliant Laini Taylor just did a fantastic post about her writing process, which she likens to a dance between the known and the unknown. This woman. She must be divine or something. In her post, she talks about how she doesn't outline her stories before writing them simply because she doesn't know what's going to happen beforehand and she also mentions the terror that accompanies her process.