Friday, December 4, 2009

How A Story Grows

When writing a novel, there's always a little uncertainty in my mind as to how much should I plan out and how much do I allow the story to find its own path. 

Having no path beforehand tends to make a story fizzle out after 50 or 100 pages and then there's no where to go, because you had nowhere in mind to begin with.

An extremely detailed outline to start a book can suck all the life out the writing as you becoming a quasi-computer programmer plugging in words to get from point A to point B. 

Finding the right balance is something I think writers learn over time and through  lots of mistakes. 

Yesterday, I was at one of these pivotal moments in my new novel. I was finishing a scene and as I was coming to the close of it, realized that was the last scene I had really sketched out and I started to panic a little wondering where I was supposed to go next. Sure, I have dozens of scenes that I know I need to write, it's not like I was blank. But the sequence of those scenes and how the lead into and affect others is critical. 

After I finished the chapter I had been writing, I contemplated and frustrated and then finally, was illuminated. Yesterday in the late afternoon was one of those rare moments where everything came together in my mind. Suddenly the path ahead was clear. Though to be sure, I always allow for a few detours along the way.

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