Friday, July 22, 2005

Fossils and excavation

Stephen King says in his book "On Writing":

"... Stories aren't souvenir tee-shirts or Game Boys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer's job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same."

The more I write, the more I agree with him. With each novel, I attempt to be more organized, to make the writing of it easier, quicker, less draining. With Camilla, I wrote up a basic plot, did an outline, character sketches and then wrote a few miscellaneous scenes to start getting to know my characters. Then I did a bunch of scene cards - listed every possible idea I had for a scene: orange index card if it's from Camilla's POV and green if it's from Jed's.

Then, all set and knowing just where I wanted it to go, I sat down to write in earnest.

Camilla and Jed cuddled up together with the McCullough clan and all their friends and brainstormed ways to stop me. Matthew proposed too early. Jed got hurt a week ahead of schedule. Lisa turned up pregnant. Lucia got the hots for Jed. Liv started stalking Camilla.

None of these things were in my original outline. I was shocked - shocked when Lisa told Camilla she was four-months pregnant!

And so, I am currently at an impasse. Things have happened in my story that I wasn't planning on and I have had to toss my current outline and start figuring out what to do now.

The worst thing about this? I'll spend hours working on it, sit down to write and they'll screw me up all over again. Characters are malicious and sneaky... even when we didn't create them that way.

What's my current word count? A measly 34,515. Well under my weekly goal.


Camilla and I need to sit down and have a chat. I'll let you know what she has to say, since it turns out that it isn't my story -- I just need to excavate hers.

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