The road to writing a novel is a lot like planning and going on a long journey.
[I’m sure this metaphor has been used before (probably will be more eloquent that what I’m about to put forth); nevertheless, here’s my spin on it.]
It can be plotted and planned with a set itinerary with little to no room for deviation, or it could be a spur-of-the-moment decision with open parameters.
It can be a solitary endeavor or a collaborative effort.
The destination can be somewhere familiar and comforting, or somewhere foreign and intriguing.
Sometimes there are delays in the departure for a myriad of reasons, leading to frustration while waiting for whatever setback causing the delay to be cleared.
Though once the journey has been established, the real adventure begins. More times than not, it is long and laden with meandering paths leading to all sorts of terrain. Sure, for while the road might be on a clear day down amid a bustling city with activity and wondrous sights around every corner. Every now and then a side street will appear that leads to somewhere unexpected, somewhere interesting, or maybe even somewhere dangerous. Whether or not to take that path, to stay on the main road, or to choose another path will have an impact on the overall experience.
Meteorological conditions can also play a role in shaping the course of the journey, and alter the final destination – droughts and deluges will undoubtedly hamper and change the direction of a pre-determined trip, resulting (sometimes) in digressions to someplace else.
OK. That’s about as far as I can go with this metaphor.
The rationale behind the parallels between travelling and writing came about quite randomly and seemed a good idea, as the title of this blog entry states, once again I find myself “stuck” plotting and pondering character development and how their relationships might/will/can impact the overall narrative arc. Then again, considering the quasi-insane large scope I’ve set up for myself [three-part series spanning several centuries with multiple generations of a handful of families set more or less in the same location] it’s not too surprising that there needs to be a whole lot of plotting and planning to ensure that (almost) everything makes sense.
Of course to add to the already difficult task of creating a series saga on this epic scale, I’ve plunked these tales predominantly in the mystery genre, with allusions to fantasy, Steampunk, suspense, science fiction and (maybe) horror (at least in the traditional literary sense, not necessarily in the slasher movie sense). As stated (many times) before (in other blog entries), it is my duty (job?) as the creator of this intricate web of mystery and suspense (and all the other aforementioned genres) I should be the one who holds all the cards and knows the hand that’s being dealt. Therefore I am tasked to determine who should know what and when and how and why: should the reader know some things about the narrative that the characters don’t, or vice versa? Is there enough being revealed? Is there too much? Have I dropped enough red herrings, or are some of them too obvious? When (and how) is the right time/place to drop a shocking twist? Will it be shocking or anticlimactic?
Again (probably reiterating from a previous blog entry) I have the utmost respect and admiration for writers of all genres and media who can successfully craft a story with a central (or supplementary) mystery with a denouement that is both shocking and almost unbelievable, but upon reviewing everything that had taken place before the final reveal, makes perfect sense and makes me smack myself (figuratively) for not seeing it before the revelation. Steven Moffat – show-runner and co-writer for both Sherlock and Doctor Who – is one of those writers who has (with his collaborators) created story arcs that span over many episodes, dropping subtle hints or non sequitur that comes across as being innocuous or unimportant, but in the end becomes very relevant. Agatha Christie’s mystery novels also have this quality (at least when I first read her novels), as to many other mystery writers (of which there are too many to name).
Point is, with the constant inundation of ideas, plot twists and other random musings from my writing Muses, plot bunnies and such, I find myself attracted to the meandering paths and exploring different outcomes to quasi-established plot scenarios and character relationships, almost to the point of following down those paths and finding where the story could end up. Essentially if I commit to exploring all these paths and possibilities, I may have essentially doubled, tripled (or some other exponential number) the number of stories I will need to write.
Then again, that’s what parallel universes and alternate timelines are for.
Here’s hoping I find my way back on the road to actually writing these stories (most of which are quasi-written in my head – it seems the journey from my head and onto paper/computer is a tangled one).
Of course in all this meandering, pondering and plotting, the writing prompt project is temporarily on hold, though some of the fictional snippets already posted were among the catalysts that landed (and stranded) me in the Land of Exposition, and if I can sort through the Jungle of Possibilities I can find my way out of the Writer’s Roundabout and back on the Road to Writing.