Writing Adventures in 2005

By Lazette Gifford
2005, Lazette Gifford

 

Writing should always be an adventure.  Every time we start a new story there is usually the same sense of adventure that some people get when they begin a journey to a new location.  We are exploring, and even the people who go with a roadmap (or an outline) don't know exactly what they're going to find or what will happen before they reach the end.  Like any journey in life, writing is filled with surprises. 

Sometimes, though, we find ourselves reliving the same journey rather than taking a new path.  If the writer is not actively exploring new ground, then she might be rewriting the same story with character names changed, and perhaps a few changes in locale.  Early in the exploration of writing this actually works.  We are not apt to get the story right on the very first try, and reworking it in different venues can sometimes help define the missing pieces. 

However, there is a time when the writer should move on or risk being stuck forever in the same cycle.  

This is the chance to set a goal for 2005 that will help you do so.  Why not be a little more daring?  Why not branch out in new ways?

 

LENGTH 

Are you a novelist?  Can't seem to write a story that doesn't come in at 100,000 words, and often in multiple volumes of that number?  That was me until a few years ago. Then I began to study short stories and I found that not only could I write them, I could actually sell more of those than I could novels.  Short stories are not just condensed novels.  They are pieces of a life, rather than the entire life.  If you can learn to write short stories, you have an entire new market in which to sell. 

Here's a book that might help:  Writing the Short Story by Jack M. Bickham, Writer's Digest ISBN 0-89879-670-9 

Or are you one of those rare creatures who writes shorter material and would like to do a novel?  The key to novel writing, at least for those who are not natural novelists, is to plan.  And here's a book that can help:  The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall, Writer's Digest ISBN 0-89879-848-5 

 

CHARACTERS 

I mentioned the recycling of characters into new stories.  If you find that you always write about the tough, misunderstood tomboy who saves the world, or the sensitive cunning elf who helps humans, then it might be time to branch out and get a few new faces in the mix.  Write a male lead instead of a female; write a human fighting elves rather than an elf helping humans.  Give a character a darker side, or create one who was born an angel in an evil world.  

Creating new character types and making them interesting is a lot of work, but as a writer you will want to branch out and work with as many different characters as you can. 

And yes, there is a good book for this as well:  Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, Writer's Digest  ISBN 0-89879-815-9

 

POV 

Do you write only first person present tense stories?  Time to try limited third!  In fact, trying different viewpoints can open up entire new vistas for writing.  However, knowing the rules of different viewpoints is very important.  What is the difference between first person present tense and first person past tense?  What is omniscient and how does it differ from multiple third person? 

If you want to understand more about viewpoint, one of the best books out there is Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card, Writer's Digest, ISBN 0-89879-307-6 

 

GENRE 

This, of course, is the big adventure.  Do you only write science fiction?  Try your hand at mystery.  A romance writer?  Try your hand at historical fiction.  And remember that writing in one genre does not always mean leaving out aspects of another.  You could write a science fiction mystery novel, or a romantic western,  or a science fiction western.... This is how we've come up with such subgenres as steampunk. 

There are plenty of books out there to explain what specific genres entail, but in this case I think the better choice is to read books within the genre you want to write.  Get a feel for it, and make note of how the story is told, and what genre-related items you note (technology for science fiction, how magic works for fantasy, clue presentation for mystery, etc.). 

The start of a year provides both a chance and an excuse for those who like to challenge themselves with something new.  Perhaps this is the nudge you need to make a leap to a new level.  Give it a try.  You may find that you have far more imagination than you've allowed yourself to work with prior to this. 

But whatever you do, be sure to have fun on the journey!