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Frost on Fiction 2: The Weighing of Writing
Hey all, Frost again. I hope you enjoyed my intro article; I'm very excited to be writing a series on...writing. It's a subject that's near and dear to my heart, and I hope that with my eclectic sense of humor and advice, you not only learn something, but also enjoy it along the way. Thanks for reading!
I titled this session The Weighing of Writing (it has a nice sway, don't you think?). You're probably thinking, What on earth is he talking about? I'm sure somebody is going to say "No, Frost; it should be the Weight of writing." They're probably right, but you know what? I actually wanted to talk about how we go about writing a story: the act of crafting fiction, what to do and what to avoid. How do we weigh what we will and won't put in our stories?
The good news is: that's completely up to you. The bad news is the same-it's up to you. Nobody can say what you should or shouldn't have in a story; oh, they can, and people you get to critique your work probably will, too. Take out this character. You need more descriptions. Too many descriptions! Where's the action? Don't you have any romantic tension? Where's the dragon? I don't see any dragons yet...It can drive you to the point of where you wish you'd never written. That's normal. What you have to remember is "This is my story. I created it. Sure, it might borrow from outside sources, but what doesn't?" There's nothing original anymore. Be proud of your creation, and let it be just that-yours.
So, now that we know writing is up to the writer, how do we decide what to include and what not? Here's my advice: don't do it until you've finished the story. That's right. Don't sit there and re-read what you've written. That's letting the editor into the room, and we don't want them in the room looking over the writer's shoulder just yet (that'll come when we're editing and re-writing). Go with what you feel, and put it down on paper. Don't worry if it doesn't make sense, or you're not proud of it. No writer is pleased with everything they write. It's a growing, learning, constant process that needs plenty of encouragement and even more exercise. That means getting out there and writing something! Who cares if you don't have an ending yet, or you've left plot points dangling all over the piece? You'll take care of that. I'm telling you to postpone the editing until you're done. THEN we'll move into the next phase, but not before. Does that make any sense?
This is a temptation that's hard to fight. I know I've ignored my own rule many times, going back and changing intros to match later chapters I'd just written. No! Bad Frost...let that go until you've completed the story. Dwell on the story, the characters, the plot, the interactions, and then put it down on the page, but don't look back...not until you type THE END, or however you finish your stories (I always enjoy the BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! Brings them back for my next one...). If friends or peers want to read your work, tell them they can-if they promise not to critique it yet. If it's done, sure, let 'em tear it up. But you don't need that negativity yet-not while you're working.
See, that's the reason behind my madness. If you go back and edit what you've written while you're writing, you'll get frustrated. It's even worse if you show it to others and get their criticism. It doesn't have to be mean-spirited or even bad; just a correcting point could dissuade you from even finishing the story. "I can't write, I have no talent, I'm giving it up..." Writers are drama queens; c'mon, you know you are. All writers are in some fashion or another. Drama gives us the passion to capture life in words, to craft and create and not feel bad about building up or destroying that life. It is a gift that not everyone has, so if we decide to write, we must be cautious and careful in how we approach our work and our craft.
Okay, I think I've said enough for now. Remember, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them in Wordsmith's or drop me a PM. I won't bite...at least not that hard. Just a nibble...