Saturday, November 21, 2015

Middle of the Month Story Switch - Why It Matters

So I started out this month intending to write one story. Then, part way through, I made a switch to writing another story.

Does this happen to other NaNo’ers too? I’m hoping so. But if I’m an odd ball, it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. 

What I began writing in November was actually a continuation of last year’s NaNo novel… which I never finished. I still have every intention of finishing that story – someday – but a little over a week ago, I was inspired to begin a brand new story, the likes of which I had never tackled before.

The idea sprang up when I was trying to convince my boyfriend (a non writer) that if he wanted to write a book, he indeed had the creativity to do so, despite his thinking that he had not a creative bone in his body.

After some prompting about what a potential character would be named, he finally said, “Jim.”

“And what’s Jim like?” I asked.

“I guess he’s sort of tall,” he replied.

“And what does Jim do in the story?”

“It doesn’t matter because he dies.”

I laughed and ignore this fact. I ask, “How does Jim die?”

“In an elevator.”

“What was Jim doing on the elevator?” I ask, digging deeper.

“He was going to get a snack.”

“What kind of snack?”

“A pretzel. But it doesn’t matter, because he dies,” he said finally with a chuckle. I giggle too, but something was already beginning to take root. From this point on, each time I ask another question about Jim, my boyfriend’s response is, “Yeah, but it doesn’t matter because Jim dies.”

A few days later, I announced the news. “I’m going to write Jim’s story.” That thing that had begun to take root in my mind was now budding and veining out, growing all over my imagination.

At first, my boyfriend tried to convince me that the character he had created on the spot was not worthy of having his own tale, but I was relentless. The idea had already taken form and I was determined to abandon my current novel idea in order to pursue Jim’s story, although it doesn’t matter because he still dies. Spoiler alert.

Only now, I’m on a mission to discover why Jim’s story does matter.

I’m obsessed with telling this story now. I've always believed it important to tell the story that demands to be told, when it is demanding and not putting it off or waiting to tell it when you feel like telling said story.

And it’s true what they say about writers looking and finding inspiration in any place they look. Sorry that we writers always seem to be looking in such weird places. 

Be careful if you befriend a writer.

Now, when I’m stuck about what to write, I find myself turning to my boyfriend to ask about the character he unintentionally created, to learn about a particular piece of history or personality trait that may get the creative juices flowing once more. The other night, he said to me, “Oh, so in a first draft, you just sort of put everything in you can think of and then later you take out what you don’t need?”

He gets it. He gets me.

And that’s an amazing thing for my writing. 

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