I am not the writer that I want to be; never the less, I refuse to give up. I have wasted enough words to fill entire volumes of encyclopedias. I have read many of the popular writing books as well as some books by less well-known authors. Each of those books have given me momentary hope that I was just missing some writing technique that I could learn and I would be back on track. Each time the hope has faded.
Recently I have been piloting my own course (I wanted to say “plotting,” but, joke aside, I didn’t want to confuse the issue). I have recently been discovering that there was this entire process to writing that I was missing. There was a tremendous amount of work that needed to be done that didn’t have anything to do with word counts, character sheets, plot points, or any of the other myriad of things that all seem necessary to creating a story.
The things that I have been discovering about my writing have been working out quite well, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that other people have beaten me to these discoveries. While this might ultimately be a tangent that fails to fulfill my writing deficiencies, it seems to be a critical piece that has been missing.
Lisa Cron wrote an article at Writer Unboxed that said:
That internal battleground [between what your protagonist thinks, what they say, and why they say it] is where your novel’s seminal source of conflict stems from. It’s what gives meaning and emotional weight to every single thing that happens in the plot. Because – as I am very fond of saying – the story is not about the plot, the story is about how the plot affects the protagonist. And, in turn, the internal struggle drives the action, which then further provokes the struggle – back and forth – from beginning to end. That is how the external stakes steadily mount, stripping away every internal rationalization in the process, until, at last, the protagonist has no choice but to change (or, of course, not).
This seems exactly right. At least for me, how can there be any conflict unless the conflict is within the character? If they don’t care whether it is day or night, why is the dusk a problem? Simple questions like that point to a missing part of the story. It is a part of the story that needs to be in place before the opening scene of the novel.
I have been doing something like this for the last story that I have been working on. Whether it actually makes the story better or not, it makes the story writing possible for me. The above linked article is long, but it seems like Lisa Cron is really onto something that seems missing in a lot of stories. The article is the first in a series that she is planning on covering. I really look forward to the next article.