A tale of two tales

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Regarding writing
Tags: ,

It’s true what they say about footballers, sometimes you have to play yourself back into form, and as a writer sometimes you have to write yourself back into the game.

I’d been suffering a mini crisis of confidence last week. I’d had a rejection and was also feeling a bit under the weather, in addition I was lacking in a project to get my teeth into (novel aside) and these elements were combining to sneak up on me and whisper: “Are you sure you haven’t reached the end of the line? Run out of enthusiasm, run out of ideas?” I’m sure most writers have had those thoughts from time to time.

Since that time I’ve begun working on two projects, one I’ve actually started writing, the other exists only in my head for the moment.

The project I’ve started work on was an idea I had for a submission window that closes in a few days, and actually I’m not convinced I’ll get it done in time. The idea has some merit, but I had to push myself to actually start work on it. Once I did it started to flow but I’m still not convinced it’s going to end up one of my better stories and I still have to force myself to get enthusiastic about it.

By contrast the project that, at the moment, only exists in my head is one that already feels ‘right’. I’m enthusiastic about it, and once I had the basic idea my mind started firing off in different directions, creating/rejecting plot permutations and character ideas until, quite quickly, I ended up with a fully realised story with engaging protagonists, an interesting setting, a beginning a middle and an end. Ok the protagonists still need names, and the middle section needs fleshing out, and of course I still need to actually write the thing, but still, I’m excited and enthused about it in a way I haven’t been about a story for a little while.

I think, for me, stories end up in one of four categories (there may be sub categories and there may be categories I haven’t considered yet, but for now we’ll go with this.)

• The ones that seem like a good idea but aren’t. Now I might decide they’re a bad idea before I type a single word, or they might be the kind of stories I only realise are a dead end after I’ve started. Trust me; walking away from a novel when you’ve already written 25,000 words is frustrating as hell.

• The story idea that’s good but is waiting for the right time. This has happened a few times, in fact the novel I’m currently started working on features four characters and substantial plot elements from an idea I originally conceived in 2006. The original idea was a haunted house story, whilst my novel falls more into the post-apocalyptic genre, so you can see that sometimes it isn’t just a case of timing, sometimes its waiting for the inspiration that takes an idea in a different direction.

• The ok story ideas. These are the ones that I don’t have great enthusiasm for, but which are decent enough ideas, and which, with a push, I’ll finish/submit.

• The ideas that grip me. These are the stories that HAVE to be told. The stories that either arrive fully formed, or quickly evolve into fully formed stories in my head, the ones I can’t wait to start on.

Now of course it doesn’t follow that an idea I’m enthusiastic about turns out to be a great story, sometimes this can blind you to a narrative’s flaws, and similarly a story you have to chisel out of solid rock with a toothpick might turn out to be a real gem and worth all the hard work.

All I know is it’s glad to be back in the game!

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Comments
  1. […] there will be a hint of irony involved given the story in question is one of the ones I mention here, namely the one I really had to force myself to […]

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