Authorguy's Blog

In the Minotaur’s Maze

Posted on: April 11, 2011


By which I mean to say, that I am following a thread. It’s not a real thread, unfortunately, but a thread of logic, of coherence, and consistency. It is in short, a thread of story.

Lots of authors out there can tackle any piece of a story that comes their way, writing up little pieces of text that will, eventually, get put into the right order so the story is revealed, much like a picture puzzle. I am not one of those people. The writing experience for me is very simple: I start at some beginning (which, often as not, comes to me in a dream or a random comment, or some internal visualization) and I keep going until I get to the end.

There are upsides and downsides to thread-following, as there are to most things. The upside is that the maze becomes less of a maze. Random side alleys are less inviting, if they even get noticed. I’m not looking at them, I’m looking at my thread. I’ll go down a random side alley if the thread does. Which it often does. To a pantser, every alley is a random side alley.

But, not all side alleys are alleys I want to go down, even if the thread leads there. My latest WIP, Ghostkiller, has my MC currently working with a pair of homicide detectives investigating, well, a homicide. Another Ghostkiller. Which has lots of nasty ghostkiller-related consequences. And I don’t know much about homicide detective procedures anyway. I’m interested in the guy, not the job. Do I really want to go down that alley?

Fortunately, I don’t have to. Story logic is multi-branching, and there are threads all over the place. There are doubtless other threads I can follow which do not require me to know about police call-in procedures. I’m not a complete pantser, either, so I have some idea of which threads I want to follow and where they’re likely to go. If I’m done the job right, or got lucky, there’ll be a branch just up ahead. If there’s no branch, maybe I’ll do like the hero in Tron and make one. If I’m not lucky and I can’t just make it up, there was a branch just a little back there. If I’m really unlucky the last branch was quite a long time ago, and I’ve got some serious revising to do.

Which, curiously, is another benefit of thread-following. Dead ends and bad branches don’t hang around in the text, waiting to be excised in a furious burst of revision and second drafting. The current draft is the only draft. When editing time comes along there’s almost nothing left to do but the mechanical formatting and grammatical stuff. Of course I suppose I could just save that text and see if it makes sense somewhere else. That’s another weird thing about story logic, a scene that makes no sense from one direction can make perfect sense somewhere else. The manner in which you enter the alley dictates whether or not there’s an exit, and if so what kind.

But if you drop the thread you’re screwed, hunting around on hands and knees in the dark, groping about until you find it again. Which could take a while. If you’re like me you’ve got a bunch of threads at the same time, though, so if you can’t find one you can just spin off on a different thread-axis and work on a different story for a while. The threads are all connected, after all, by following one you may pick up the one you lost. Happens to me all the time. On the other hand, having multiple threads can be a problem if they all start calling at once.

I haven’t said anything about the main metaphor in this sea of troubles, the minotaur that lives in the maze. Which is only fair, I suppose. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, and have no idea what it could be. Do you?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Unbinding the Stone

A Warrior Made

A Warrior Made

Click here to BUY NOW!

St. Martin’s Moon

St. Martin's Moon

Click cover to Buy Now!

Ghostkiller

Chasing His Own Tale

Click Here to Buy Now!

Struck By Inspiration

Struck By Inspiration

Click here to Buy Now!

Steampunk Santa

Click here to Buy Now!

Bite Deep

Christmas among the vampires!

Click Here to BUY NOW!

Click here to buy NOW!

Cyber-pirates. Sort of.

Click here to BUY NOW!

Off the Map

Reality TV...without the Reality!

Author Guy’s Tweets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 625 other followers

What has gone before

Blog Stats

  • 8,625 hits
%d bloggers like this: