What you want to write VS what you write

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EMC
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What you want to write VS what you write

Post by EMC » June 16th, 2010, 11:23 am

I know this is going to sound extremely odd but just roll with it for a moment... :)
Does anyone have the issue of what they WANT to write versus what actually appears on the screen? To explain - both the novels I am working on at the moment, I wanted to be literary character studies of people in impossible/extremely unusual situations, and what happens to them. What I come out with is - Novel 1 - a fantasy element gets thrown in, that seemed ingenious at the time and now is wrecking my head and possibly making an ending impossible. Novel 2 is turning into a thriller type scenario. Bear in mind I don't read either fantasy OR thrillers, so am intrigued as to where the bleep they came from!
A writer friend told me "Well, you did write all the words yourself, you DO have control over it" so I shanked him. Kidding. I only thought about it. :)

Any thoughts?
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polymath
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by polymath » June 16th, 2010, 2:42 pm

A writing phenomena known as kitchen sink syndrome throws anything and everything ready to hand into the mix and sees how it comes out, what sticks.

Coarse ground peppercorns, peanut butter, dijon mustard, orange vinaigrette, and alfalfa sprouts on marble rye makes a suprisingly tasty sandwich. Crunchy. Spicy. I wouldn't put it on a traditional deli menu, perhaps a vegan restaurant's menu.

During my prewriting phase, I select a broad topical theme from which to derive relevant motifs. I'm working on a project involving island hopping that's at the core of the action-events. A broad theme is travel, but I'm not writing a travelogue. A narrower theme is peer or social cohort pressures encountered while on Wanderjahr. The central character is a reluctant travelling companion accompanying another on his journey of self-discovery. She has another related goal that emerges during their travels. Forging a separate, private self-indentity she's comfortable with that's not dependent on his journey of self-discovery. The Inciting Crisis is her realization her identity isn't distinguishable from his. She's a pale shade of him. Meanwhile, he imposes his will on her emerging journey of self-discovery.
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wilderness
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by wilderness » June 16th, 2010, 5:14 pm

Sure, your novel can take on a life of its own. Tons of writers write themselves to a very different point than where they originally intended to go. Especially if you're a "pantser". I say listen to your instincts.

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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by wetair » June 16th, 2010, 6:22 pm

I've always thought it is a good thing your story starts writing itself. you don't know where half the ideas are coming from but they are coming and its probably a better idea not to fight them.

but to answer the question, not much. i get a scene in my head and i let it move around my head for a few weeks before i start writing. you know, trying to figure out where its going, something about the characters, the world, all that. i only start writing down the extra info later. but there are always surprises, always something new and that's the thrill, you know?

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karenbb
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by karenbb » June 16th, 2010, 8:00 pm

I agree with everyone else...go with it. Let the characters tell you what's going to happen next and put it down on the page. You can always go back and change it but you might not get back that moment of inspiration.

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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by khanes » June 17th, 2010, 4:13 pm

When I write, I loosely plan a plot and some conflicts for my characters, then I free write. Sometimes, what I write surprises me. Long scenes will spray out of my fingertips and I'll look back and think, "Where the hell did that come from?" But I like the scenes, and I trust my gut instinct, so I just roll with it. Once you finish your first draft, you can always change parts of the story you don't like. So why not just let it flow! Sounds like your novels are taking some interesting twists!

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Mi.Ishi
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by Mi.Ishi » June 17th, 2010, 6:49 pm

I guess it's just free expression.

But I always suggest making a bit of a plot line or a synopsis or something so you know where the big conflicts are, and how the ending turns/should turn out. With that fantasy piece, where it seems like there's no end in sight...well, obviously you need to pick that story apart a little and figure out some climax and denouement so you aren't writing a story that never ends and end up with a song to go with "this is the story that never ends! It goes on and on my friend!"

I overthink my stories so much though that I rarely get these bursts of crazy inspiration where I just write, so I think you should revel in them and see if you like them!

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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by wildheart » June 18th, 2010, 12:44 am

The only advice I have to give, the only time I would say to stop and fix things before moving on, is if you hate what you are writing. If you hate the plot, the characters, the theme, ect. STOP. If you can't love your characters, if you don't respect them it is time to change things up.

Not writing what you intended can be a different matter entirely. If you like what you are getting keep going.

You wanted to know if this happened to me? Well, yes. I find it happening right now actually. A character has a bigger role in my story than expected, the theme is changing...so is the plot, but I'm rolling with it. Why? It's a first draft, I'm allowed. But I'm also paying close attention. If I start to stall out I will know I've gone in the wrong direction and I'll cut it and take another approach.

Not sure if that answered your question.

Seriously, though. Don't worry about this. We aren't always going to know what we really need to be writing until it comes out. That is what I have realized with my current WIP.
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Bron
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by Bron » June 20th, 2010, 6:18 am

I think this is reasonably common, at least from comments I've read. The story might be what you planned but the feel of the story is different. That's how my manuscript has turned out. It's got quite a different feel from what I envisaged in the planning. But it's still a decent story (I hope) and obviously this is the way I write so I'm not stressing. As someone else said, as long as you don't hate what you are writing, I'd run with it and see how you go.

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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by Claudie » June 20th, 2010, 10:59 pm

I've always thought it was a good thing when a work in progress turned out differently than what we initially envisionned (provided, as others said, that you still like it).
A writer friend told me "Well, you did write all the words yourself, you DO have control over it" so I shanked him. Kidding. I only thought about it. :)
Don't shank him, I think he's correct. We have control over what we write. I believe that when a work goes into an unexpected direction, it's because we feel it's the right thing to do. I like to think when I go wild, it's writer's instinct rather than character schizophrenia. ;)
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

EMC
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by EMC » July 7th, 2010, 7:41 am

Thanks for all your comments. I've realised, going back to the slightly fantasy type novel, that I do in fact hate what I have done. :( A total rewrite beckons.
Does anyone find themselves starting over and over?
Does anyone find themselves battling with what they write? Inner critic/editor - that's not good enough, what the bleep are you doing? etc etc. Ad nauseum, ad infinitum?
Maybe there's a thread about this somewhere.... Be glad to hear I'm not the only one struggling. :)

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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by jkmcdonnell » July 7th, 2010, 9:54 am

I started out with the most basic idea, not even an idea, but really just an image of a character in a semi-fantasy situation. No plot, no characterisation, no clue. I took this first image about four years ago and started writing before I even realised I was writing, and then before I knew it, I had backstory, conflict, action, and 70 000 words.
It was terrible.
I scrapped it -- not completely; but I pretty much ripped its guts out and changed everything I hated about it (too many coincidences needed to drive the plot forward; an aimless, stereotyped MC). The original scene was still there, though barely, and not for any justifiable reason other than my attachment to it. This one earned another terrible, 70 000 words, but it was just as soulless, just as clichéd, just as bad. (Really. Just awful. I have all the MSs on my MacBook and re-read them from time to time, just for the shudders.) Scrapped.
The next was completely different, but totally the same: still semi-fantasy, the same main idea for the antagonist (which, really, is the only constant in this whole cycle) -- and that sneaking, original image-scene was still alive and kicking, but now only as unseen backstory. This time, the writing was a little better (but still purple), the plot more intricate (but still unrealistic) and I had more of an idea of who I wanted the MC to be (but still a hard time getting this out on paper). 40 000 words. This was the hardest to let go, but it had to be done. All those little things you (the universal you) hate about your MS -- the contrived plot points, the inconsistencies, the things you tell yourself you'll fix later, several revisions down the line -- are hard to face, but I'm glad to have done it (three times so far). I can go back and see the complete awfulness of those three manuscripts, and see how much my writing has improved, largely thanks to forums and websites like these. They're trunked, but not forgotten about. There might even be a "boy's" MG novel hidden away beneath all that waffle (surprising to me most of all, seeing as it's a genre I've never been interested in).
So yep, definitely -- I start over again and again and again. Maybe it's because I lack persistence; I like to think it's because I can let myself see when a project has reached its undeniable end. But either way I'm glad. Because number four -- still semi-fantasy, still with that same antagonist, but finally a world away from that first, inspiring image -- is the best yet.

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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by EMC » July 7th, 2010, 10:58 am

Hi JK,

Thanks for your response. I'd actually gone back to rewrite that post (I sense an MO here!) because I know that everyone struggles with their work, and it was a stoopid question. I wanted to clarify it somewhat. Part of me thinks the fact that I'm writing at all is awesome, but I get myself into conniptions trying to make it be something. Even though I 'know' the first draft is meant to be dreadful. I actually stop myself writing because of all the arguing that goes on in my head. I wonder does anyone do that? I genuinely don't know how people (and so many people) manage to finish anything - there's so much to it! The story, the language, description, pacing, characters, etc etc etc. I feel like throwing my hand to my forehead alá an 18th century Southern belle, feeling 'overwhelmed' with it all. :) I'm going to put some work up for feedback, because I would REALLY appreciate someone other than myself reading it.

You're so brave to throw out all that work. It's very hard. I also find it hard to critique my own work beyond 'it's awful' or not, and would really struggle to do that for others - esp the line by line critiques I see.

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » July 7th, 2010, 11:23 am

Oh, I've stopped and started over before. Often numerous times in my current WIP. And I've always gotten somewhere better in the end. The work really does go somewhere. And if it makes you feel better, that's how Tolkien worked. The Lord of the Rings was started, stopped, back to the begining, restarted, restopped, back to the beginning, restarted... you get the idea. And it ended up somewhere pretty good. :)
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Down the well
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Re: What you want to write VS what you write

Post by Down the well » July 7th, 2010, 4:34 pm

Bryan Russell/Ink wrote:Oh, I've stopped and started over before. Often numerous times in my current WIP. And I've always gotten somewhere better in the end. The work really does go somewhere. And if it makes you feel better, that's how Tolkien worked. The Lord of the Rings was started, stopped, back to the begining, restarted, restopped, back to the beginning, restarted... you get the idea. And it ended up somewhere pretty good. :)
Yea, but didn't it take him twelve years to write it? At some point don't you have to push forward and get the thing written, even if it isn't what you originally envisioned?

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