Another question; this time about story inspiration and focus

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Another question; this time about story inspiration and focus

Postby RSchibler » Mon Mar 26, 2018 8:51 am

I'll try to be succinct, but I'm thinking with my fingertips to an extent here so grant me patience wotf001

Quite often, I'll have an inspiration for a story, an "idea". Well, these are always perfect and exciting. Naturally, once I start writing the darn thing, it's not so perfect anymore and I have to adapt my perfect idea to fictional reality. I'll have an idea for a story about a little girl lost in the woods on the way to grandmother's house, but when I start writing I realize that's boring and cliche, so I have her turn into a wolf instead and now she has to resist the urge to eat dear old granny. Or some such. My question comes in from some advice I've read and been given that when a story needs work, we should recall our original inspiration for writing the story and try to get back to those roots.

I'm of two minds about this, I think. On the one hand, that original idea is what excited me and I can see the value in using that to guide editing and rewrites. On the other hand, I'm definitely a discovery writer, and the things I discover when I write are often better, or at least, feel better to me. The original idea is just the springboard to the real story.

I guess this isn't really a question, per se, but more a discussion prompt about your thoughts on this topic.

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Re: Another question; this time about story inspiration and focus

Postby morganb » Mon Mar 26, 2018 10:53 am

Here are my two French francs-worth on the topic...

As soon as I start writing anything, that nasty little Tasmanian Devil that lives inside my soul spins up and starts telling me it's crap, it's cliche, it's been done a thousand times before, no one's going to like it, you should just really quit writing and be happy with your boring day job, yada yada yada. The hardest part I have about any new story is just finishing that darn first draft as quickly as humanly possible before the fire burns completely out of it. I usually have no idea what the story is even really all about until AFTER I make it all the way through the first whirlwind of a draft. Some of the best advice I ever read was "First get it written, then get it right." That might have come from James Thurber, but I take it to mean exactly what you're saying, Becky -- get the story all out, then I can worry about going back and making it into something original and amazing afterwards.

Also, it's not uncommon for me to COMPLETELY change my mind about things a quarter or halfway through that first draft. When that happens, I just keep writing the rest of the way as if the story had always been that way in the first place. Then I go back and write for consistency in the first rewrite, after I've thought about why I needed to write the story in the first place and what it's really all about.

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Re: Another question; this time about story inspiration and focus

Postby disgruntledpeony » Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:05 pm

More often than not, when my stories need work it's because they're missing something. I'm far more prone to rewrite scenes from scratch than I am to go back to my original ideas, because my original ideas often lack the nuance that a more polished manuscript contains. (Honestly, though, it depends on the story. Some simply require more work than others.)
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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