Friday, November 03, 2006

I Just Don't Get It

If someone out there can explain to me how my tiny little creative brain works, I'd be ever so grateful.

I settled on a story idea for NaNoWriMo. It had a good premise, a hero and heroine and secondary hero and heroine that I liked. I had some awesome scenes in mind. I knew how I wanted the story to begin and end. The mood was going to be light, the plot fairly simplistic. Throw in some quirkly characters for color and a small town setting and I felt good to go.

But the previous two days were a pure struggle. I could not for the life of me manage to put anything on the page that made me feel good. Everything felt forced, I had no idea what my characters should say to each other, no concept of how I was going to maneuver them from points A and B to C and D.

I was already bored after 3,000 words.

So this morning I resurrected an older idea that I've been puttering on for a while. I was determined to follow the NaNo rule that you can't bring prior work to the table on starting day. Everything you write toward the 50k word goal must be new stuff. I'm cool with that. Part of my problem is a tendency to rewrite the first few scenes over and over again. I certainly don't want to waste my month doing that.

So I decided that I would jump into the middle of the story and act as though I'd already written everything up until that point to put my characters where they needed to be. I'd skip the beginning chapters and start in the middle. Too, I determined that if I could write enough today to catch me up to my proper word count for day 3 - some 5,000 plus words - I would force myself to go back to my original idea. Remember, I'm sworn to actually finish something this time, even if what I finish bores me to tears.

And you know what happened? My brain exploded. I went wild. I wrote and wrote and wrote today. I passed by my 5,000 word goal and still have an entire night ahead of me to plow onward.

Best of all, none of it was a struggle. The characters talked to each other. In fact, they talked so much it took me twice as many words to get the scene down as I'd planned. They met and made plans. They experienced conflict. They moved forward and took steps back.

And it was fun! I didn't want to stop writing to go pick up the kids. I was annoyed when the dog interrupted me to be let outside. We're about to leave for dinner and I'm asking we go fast-food so I can get back to it.

Why? I just don't get why one story idea leaves me cold when another one sends my muse spinning in intoxication. Why one set of characters inspires me so much more than another set.

Funny thing is that what I'm writing now needs a ton - TON - of work to make it good. I'm not writing stellar stuff. I'm sticking with the It's Okay to Suck mantra of all NaNoers out there. But the quantity is coming. Easily.

Anyway, I've done what I vowed not to do in that I changed my focus. Since I'm no worse off than I would have been had I stayed the course, I'm okay with my decision. I'm now excited by the prospect of finishing instead of wondering how I'm going to spew out 50,000 words when I don't have any idea of what my characters want to say to each other. I figure this is the first step in making it happen.

Truly, I baffle myself.

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