07 July 2008

What is your guide?

I am noodling a new short story right now. In the midst of some heavy novel revisions, I feel the need to draft something. I actually like the white page after staring at the same 85,000 words for awhile. I have a world with a couple of values primary to the story, a vague sense of character (that's the part that seems to write itself), and some semblence of a plot. But right now I can't start writing because the plot just isn't there. I haven't pounded out a thoughtful enough synopsis. Worst of all, I don't have an ending.

I have to see the end before I can start writing. Otherwise I end up with half a story languishing on my hard drive. Do you? If not I envy you. But I actually know very few published writers who don't know where they're headed when they start. This is not to say that they don't sometimes end up somewhere unexpected. I just mean that most published writers I know have a synopsis somewhere, be it in their head or a notecard, before they start to write. I can't find my direction within 2-5000 words without such a compass.

Do you like the stars, a compass, GPS, Mapquest? What's your guide from Point A to Point Z when writing a short story?


David E. Hughes said...

For me, it just depends on the story. Sometimes I know the ending, sometimes the ending comes to me as I write the story, and sometimes the ending turns out to be different that I expected. I do have a few of those 1/2 stories where I'm still waiting for the end to come to me in a flash of brilliance!

lesleylsmith said...

My short stories start with an idea. Often this is a 'what if' idea that is a problem that needs to be solved, e.g. What if the laws of physics mandated that protons decayed? I must admit I also enjoy starting with morphed song titles, e.g. It's Raining Mien, or just general topics, e.g. the fourth of July. Then, I create the most compelling one-and-only character that can solve the problem in question. I think about the plot arc from start to finish before I start writing, so nowadays, I generally know how my stories will end.