In the grip
Posted February 18, 2012on:
One of the things that keeps me writing is when I get caught up in one of those moments when so many parts come together it’s like the universe is yelling at me to write the damn story already! They’re not moments I get a lot of, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a pantser most of the time, or in spite of it.
I only get it with scenes, or short stories. Novels give me too much time to play with an idea and find a way to make it different by the time I get there, I guess. Short stories can be written very quickly and let me stay focused on the main thought.
The first one I got as part of a contest, where I was the prize. The lady who won was supposed to get written into a short story by me. (There were actually 10 authors and 10 winners.) To this day I don’t know if what I did was what my publisher wanted. I got some life details from this very nice lady and proceeded to write an entire story around her, with her as the major character.
The reason is the set of details she sent me, plus the fact that I was not writing the story just to please me, as I usually do, but I was writing a story for her, always a great motivator to me. I’m much more likely to do something for someone else than I am for myself. Once I got the details my mind just exploded in a flurry of story logic, trying to figure out ways to link them up into a coherent and consistent story with a fantasy style. The most important details were the bearded dragon lizards. This led me naturally to think of dragons but in some classically me non-standard sort of way, which led ultimately to me turning most of the great cliches of fantasy literature upside-down, like elves.
This was okay, since the story was about her, firstly, and secondly, I used the cliches the way cliches should be used, to fill in the background as economically as possible, and only step forward when they had something new to contribute. Which was important because I had so much else to do with this story. I was awake for two hours that first night, plotting out most of the story for the first time ever. It took only a few weeks to write and arrived early as my story ‘Off the Map‘, which for some reason is only available through Fictionwise and BN.com, which bought Fictionwise.
The second time was two weeks ago, when my only favorite TV show ended, with a major storyline unresolved. Naturally, this led to story-logic inspired chaos in my head. Instead of someone’s life details I had everything I knew of the show. Instead of a promise and a person I had characters I cared about and an unresolved storyline that would not leave me alone. The result was the same, even more strongly, since I was trying to complete something that was already shaped by story logic, which most lives do not seem to be, for some reason.
‘Off the Map’ is a 10K-word story that took me about two weeks to write. ‘Chuck vs. the Epilog’ is a 7K-word short story that took me three days to write. The story gripped me not only in the planning stages, and yes, I did plan this one rather completely, but also in the execution. I was seeing a TV show and writing down what they said and what they did. I was hearing the characters talk and trying to make them all sound like the characters I loved. It was a totally unique story, from my perspective, with minimal introspection. TV isn’t good for that. Everything I would normally put into the character’s perceptions of their environment, or in their thoughts, hopes, and dreams, now had to be shown on stage and in the flesh. This story is my fanfic ‘Chuck vs. The Epilog’ and I honestly feel it is one of the best pieces I’ve ever done, even if a lot of the backstory is left out since I assume most readers know the show.
I felt for that one brief moment the way gods must feel all the time, and I really hope you who read this get to feel that way at least once in your lives because it’s really cool, and terrifying, to be so carried along by something so much greater than yourself.
It was a glorious explosion that I hope doesn’t happen again any time soon, because I’m really tired, and I have stories to go before I sleep.