Ping Pong

The last six months of writing this story have gone by so fast. I just enjoyed sitting down and writing, not having to think so much. Now, I’m at a stage where I need to step back and make choices.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to share  ideas with someone who can offer advice back. I wasn’t very good at this when I was younger. I was afraid my stories would never be good unless they were published. I barely let my mom look at my first two novel projects before they hit the shelves (so-to-speak). But now, after many writing workshops, I’ve gotten over that idea. The truth is, you need spring boards, people who will be honest with you and give you feedback. It doesn’t have to be in a class and it doesn’t mean they are going to be right all the time, but more often than not, they will have valuable insight and opinions.

Last night I called my brother because all the questions I came up with that day had me stressed that this story was overly complicated. He agreed to an extent. We talked about two different directions I could take my story in. Do I want this kind of world or that kind of world? Originally I wanted this, then I changed it to that, but now it doesn’t all work together. He gave me good advice, such as “If something isn’t working, get rid of it, immediately, don’t hang on to it.”

Because of my sci-fi elements, my new world rules and my indecision on tone, I’ve decided to work harder on my outline, not necessarily changing things drastically, but writing out what’s happening in the chapters more thoroughly. I’m taking a tip from Hemingway, ironic that he came up yesterday, and I am writing the story simply. What I mean is this: in college in a writing class of mine  my teacher handed out an opening story paragraph. It sounded something like this (but not this):  “This is a story about a guy. He has two friends: Amy and Matt. Amy and Matt are lovers. He wishes he was dating Amy. He does not like Matt very much. Matt is a waiter…” And then my teacher handed out another paragraph, which was the opening to one of Hemingway’s novels. It was the same story, but it was written in Hemingway’s literary voice. My teacher explained that the former paragraph was the first draft of Hemingway’s opening paragraph and the latter was the final draft that went to print. I need some straightforward outlining like that, to make sure I fully get what each chapter is. 

Even though I’m re-thinking elements of my story I feel the need to say that nothing I’ve written so far has been a waste of time. It’s helped me open up this world and create characters and story, but before I get any further I want to know that I fully understand this world, if I don’t, how am I supposed to finish writing it?

I rewrote my opening chapter in the vein of what was mentioned above. It felt good. It’s easier to digest. I think I’ll do that for the first few chapters and then see if I need to continue like that before I can dive back into my literary voice with confidence.

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4 responses to “Ping Pong

  1. I used to do this same thing for academic writing in college! My dad actually taught me – he does the same thing for proposals at work. I love it because I am a person who can get so caught up on having just exactly the right wording and it forces me to think about what I’m actually trying to say and not the words I’m using to say it. I’ve even used this method when drafting particularly difficult e-mails to my parents about wedding planning disputes or other general disagreements over my life choices…

  2. Also if you ever need to hash out details about your world let me know. I will be a spring board 🙂

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