Friday, April 9, 2010

A Need for Direction

This week has been quite the adventurous one. I'm throwing myself back into the job market, the blogosphere and the world of writing. It's been fun, but challenging. I won't bore you all with my day-to-day madness, so I'll stick to what this blog is about: fiction.

I had an idea in my head about soldiers returning from Iraq and the challenges they face. Inspiration for this story has come from articles like this one from Esquire, this one from GQ, and from the gripping story "Refresh, Refresh" by Benjamin Percy.

I also had written a random scene that I very much liked. On Monday I attempted to combine the two. I wrote for a couple hours, desperately trying to make it work. It felt awkward and clunky. After throwing in the towel for the day, I realized what my problem was: I didn't have a clear plot.

I write short stories for a couple reasons. One, I don't have the patience or confidence at the moment to tackle a work of novel proportions. Two, I love the medium of short stories. I love how you learn so much so fast about the characters. Short stories are mini-mini-novels. If it's well written it will fulfill the reader just like finishing a book. Really the two mediums shouldn't be compared too much. But just like a novel, you have to have a plot. All I had was a vague idea.

So, Tuesday when I sat down again, I sketched out my characters (at least the ones I knew would have more than a passing role) and plotted out the story. I left the outline loose enough to give me creative freedom, but tight enough to give me direction. Direction is necessary for productivity. The creators of Lost (best story on television right now, that I've watched anyway) said that during Season 3 they began to feel a little 'lost' because the studio wouldn't let them set an end date for the show. But once they set the show at six seasons, they were free to move toward that goal.

Now, I've got to pound out the rest of the rough draft. I won't be around this weekend. Hope to see you all back here on Monday.

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