Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where to begin? Amaze Yourself.

Driving on a rural road this past weekend surrounded by cornfields prompted a writing thought: where does one best begin the next story. At the beginning is a vague answer that, while true, is worthless. Any word written on a blank page is a opening to a story, but is it the best?

The green corn stalks seen in August will, in the upcoming months, turn brown and be ready for machines with metallic pointed snouts that will pluck the cobs of dented yellow kernels and shoot them into trailing wagon beds. After the precision GPS-guided chopping of selected rows, the harvested stalks left standing will morph into a fanciful Halloween maze.

The created maze can metaphorically represent the task of where does one begin his or her novel? The variables are endless, often confusing, and perhaps daunting to the nth degree.

If there is an apparent opening, all may be well and good until trapped by a dead end. If there's no entrance visible, there's nothing to stop a writer from hacking through the exterior maze perimeter to find a carved out pathway. Either way for the writer is likely to result in his or her trashing written pages, perhaps a hundred or more.

If one is reminded that every novel has a logical central point or an emotional heart, why not sit (for fantasy purposes only) on the end of a catapult's arm and be flung into the maze's center? Or find the nearest mountaintop to give one a bird's eye view to create a strategic maze plan to locate the story character's pivotal decision. The problem with being dropped into the maze's center is that one loses all the prior decisions and information gained that fleshes out the character's journey.

While reader's most often dread any story's middle, to get there without experiencing what initiated the character's imbalance results in bewilderment and/or anger when not fully in the know. The reader has been deprived of the logical steps leading to the story's satisfaction.

In addition the story progression requires strong interrelated elements. Just as chopping off the necessary triggering imbalance leads to reader apathy, not proceeding along the maze paths creates a disconcerting jumble for the reader.

In the end, getting into the maze and twisting and turning, even retreating from a dead end, can be an exhilarating experience for the reader as well as the writer.

Ps, If the writer jettison's thousands of words, all is not lost. They were probably geared to the maze that exists for the next novel.

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