Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Inspiring into Flowing Writing Technique

Since the wedding, I haven't been as inspired as I had in the relatively recent past. Whereas I had written four or five pages easy on Sundays and even got to writing two or three pages on weekday nights before, with much glee at that, I've written a lot less and it had felt like drudgery.

Now, don't get me wrong. As I mentioned in an old entry about Flow and discussed a little with Dawn in that entry, I've pushed myself to write, even though I didn't necessarily feel all that inspired about it. I've gotten about five or so handwritten pages (which, with my handwriting on the big pages I use, can turn out to be longer when typed up) so far, and the page tonight felt pretty good. I finally hit a point of real drama where tensions were created.

I can think of at least two reasons why I don't really feel all that inspired:

1. Focusing so much of my attention on the wedding, whether it be organizational or emotional, took me out of the Flowa of writing.

2. Getting frustrated with the ethical/moral themes in utopianism and the predicted final disappointment mixed with good learning while reading Alasdair MacIntyre's A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century hasn't necessarily filled me with tons of hope. Nonetheless, I'm not facing the same kind of disappointment I had in the past. I've refined my own ethics and also how they apply to my project/novel a little more, but I didn't necessarily find the Answer I was looking for, even though the information in that book has helped me to come closer to making my own semi-original answer.

I think the main thing that's making the writing something of a drag (until now) is that I'm trying to practice some different techniques and experimenting a little. Normally, exploring boundaries and seeing what happens gets pretty exciting, but most of what I'm doing is injecting more description and having things around the characters happen that provide some atmosphere and help to characterize the culture, society and such.

I'm not just injecting all this stuff in there to do it, either. A bit of this inspiration comes from a writing textbook that the wife brought home from class. It has had some pretty good ideas, and I've only read the first 50 or 70 pages over the last three or four months. Pretty much the reason I'm trying to inject more description and such into the story is to avoid saying things like "minutes passed," "some time passed," "[a character] pauses," etc. etc. Throwing in descriptions of the area around characters and bringing up the actions of non-characters that are part of scenery do a good job of
(1) showing that time passes rather than telling of its passing and

(2) as I said before, characterizing the surroundings, culture, society and working to bring the reader that much more into the world that I'm creating.

If I'm getting a little bored writing it, though, I can't help but think that my audience might very well have the same problem with it all. How much description do people want? How much will they feel it distracting them from the story? At the same time, though, I've been building this world for the last 10 or 11 years. It has changed here and there, but I know it pretty well. I'm describing a very familiar place with very familiar people. Of course, dwelling on the same ol' same ol' will bore me. At the same time, though, my audience will generally be reading the story for the first time, so it will be all new to them.

In the end, I'll need to find a balance. Writing the first draft, as I've mentioned millions of times, I'm not holding myself back, even if I think I'm writing something dumb. Instead of just having one thing happen after another, though, I've started throwing in details and descriptions. Maybe they'll eventually become too much for the story or maybe I'll figure out a better way to describe things. I'm simply just throwing in another element while drafting the story, just to get done. Once it's done, I'll be going back, moving stuff around, taking things out and putting others in, utterly changing stuff and so on and so on. It's a process, and I'm learning quite a bit doing it.

I like to think so, at least.

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