With a title like this, you are probably going to expect me to write about real life intrusions on writing. Nope. I mean I want to write about the ups and downs the characters face when they are going through your adventure.
The Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is a bit different from other conventions that I go to. For one, there is a single programming track which means that everyone (mostly) goes to every panel. Most conventions that I attend are multi track which generally means that everything that I want to see is at the same time and the rest is just a matter of boredom control (OK, not quite that bad, but somehow programming managers always manage to pit the really good stuff against each other). Other than not having to decide which panel to go to, this allows for a certain amount of blending of the panels. That is, later panels can reference things that were discussed from earlier panels with a high level of confidence that most of the audience would know what they were talking about. This is both wonderful and a bit disconcerting at the same time.
What do you do when you are working on a story and your characters start going off on a tangent? When they leave the outline behind and insist on going down the rabbit hole that you never even saw?
There are some writers who will tell you to back up to where they started going off script and get them back on. You are the writer after all, and they are just the characters.
A roll of the dice. A flip of the coin. A spin of the wheel. All good ways to get a thrill and maybe a good pay out. But are they good ways to get the love of your life?
Luck is a random event. You can’t plan on it. You have to “make your own luck” which means it isn’t luck at all. Rather you should plan. Make careful lists and check them twice or three times. Set up a schedule and stick to it like glue. This is how one avoids the need for luck.
She looked up and there he was. Walking up to the other end of the bar – the perfect man. His dusty brown hair just long enough to get messy if she ran her hands through it and hanging like curtains around his deep dark eyes. His nose lead down from there to kissable lips surrounded by just the hint of stubble. She could feel those lips on her own from over here.
How long is your story? How long should it be? Is a novella better than a novel for a first time writer? Should you write something as epic as War and Peace or keep it under 100k words? Such weighty problems that some new writers obsess over are really simple to figure out once you realize what the real questions are.
First a brief discussion of the different story lengths. These are rough estimates and can be flexible depending on the market you are submitting to. Be sure to check the guidelines. If you are self pubbing, it’s kind of up to you but your readers will expect something like this:
Characters are interesting pieces of your imagination. For many writers they are autonomous being made up of our experiences but different from us in fundamental ways. This at least is my experience, and by anecdotal evidence that of most of the writers I know. You hear it in interviews all the time – authors speak of their characters as though they are living, breathing people. Many of them talk about the characters telling the story and they are just there to write it down. It sounds crazy; in a way it sort of is.
Back in high school, I remember arguing with my teachers about how to take notes and outline papers. I get it now that they were just trying to teach me a method of organizing my thoughts and I really shouldn’t blame them for not realizing that my brain doesn’t work in the standard outline form. I made it through high school and on into college where the professors no longer cared how I took notes just so long as my papers were organized and I could answer all my test questions. That is when I learned how to take notes in the way that my mind actually processed things, and suddenly school became a lot easier.