I was thinking about doing a characterization this morning on a character I’m developing. That got me to thinking about my change as a writer over the years. It’s surprising to think how drastically I have adapted. Most think that writing is some sort of routine that we are somehow born with. But it really isn’t.
When I first started, it was all about the passion. I think
that’s because I started writing as a teenager. I once had a friend say I write
teenagers so well. That’s because everything is important, life/death, career-ending
situations. The world is out to get them and they are on their own—that’s
pretty much the mentality. I think I poured that passion into my writing. I was
addicted to the flow of words and my emotion. Yet, very little was placed on
where I was going with a story or who my characters were.
There is something to be said for writing that way. It
certainly radiates emotion from the page. But finishing a story was a struggle.
I’d “write myself into a corner” or I’d fight with people who said the path
wasn’t making sense. I was too invested in the experience that I wasn’t paying
attention to what I was writing.
As I moved into my twenties, I started looking at the plot.
I wanted to be unpredictable, which meant I had to look at the journey a little
more. For most of the time, I was still focused on the passion flowing within
me through the words. But I had more of a focus. Yet, I still bucked the “planning”
system, thinking it would stifle my creativity.
As I move into my thirties, this view has started to change.
I realized a lot of the issues with plot go away when there is a plan. I’ve
discussed before that I had to gut the middle of The Lord of Nightmares after
my first attempt at writing it. The main reason was because I really didn’t
have a set idea of what I wanted to discuss. Was this a love story between The
Lord of Nightmares and Madison?—believe it or not, that was the first idea. If
not, then what was this? Who were these Nightmares? What was their purpose? What
was I trying to say? Once I defined that, I took off with a new idea.
I’ve seen the importance of research to answer these
questions. I can define my civilizations more. I also have learned techniques
for characters. I was having trouble with one until I analyzed them. That character came alive. Writing his scenes
became easier because I knew him. I knew exactly how he would respond and what
he wanted to do.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say in embrace all plot,
character, and mapping outlines. But, I have started to identify the strengths
of the basics. Who knows? Maybe my forties will be finally giving in to the
entire outline. Writing is a process and as such is ever improving.