Brin Jackson, Fantasy writer & daydreamer

The journey of writing, craft, and of connection.

Writing beginnings. Or – propel through fear.

4 Comments

We all start somewhere, with a mixed bag of skill sets. A university degree or not, one thing I think we all have in common, at least in the beginning, is a nagging fear – can I write?

Yup. A survival mechanism designed to make us run screaming in the other direction, so, what propels us past the fear and permits ourselves to put words to paper?

What’s your ambition?

Mine is to learn the craft of writing.

How about Desire? Craving?

That sounds intriguing.

Enthusiasm? Spirit? Determination? Stubbornness?

I’ve got them in spades! Do you?

I stepped into my fear and wandered down the well-traveled pantsing road for the first draft of my novel. I’d sketch out a couple of chapters, get them on the page, and plan the next two or three. A partial pantser/plotter! Sure, I had an idea of where the story was going, how the book would end – what I didn’t know though, took me to a week-long writers workshop. Free-expressions

Boo! (Yes, that was an edge for me.)

During that week I started to get a grip on how much I want to learn this art of writing. The fundamentals: premise, stakes, place, characters, plot, tension, and more. What I’d left out, misplaced – was a clear sense of structure.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like structure. I need structure. A set writing time every day works for me. But this was a different kind of structure. This was story structure.

I came home with a healthy admiration and appreciation for the folks who put on writing workshops. They give us valuable, wonderful tools. We build connections with other writers, and in my case, I also had a list of suggested books to read on writing craft and worldbuilding. A first-time writer, (forgive the analogy) my literary jet left the tarmack and with 34,999 feet to go in the learning curve, well, yeehaw – I got excited! (Trouble is, my piloting skills need honing. My Stealth jet  hovers about a foot above the ground!)

One of the books on story engineering, the author Larry Brooks speaks of the components of storytelling. I realized we spend our lives reading, we intuitively understand how things fit together, but to be told this is where that part must go – well, I’d been handed another key to unlock the puzzle on storytelling.

I’ve shifted from pantsing to plotting. With some scenes salvaged from the first draft, and the others planned and in the right places (I hope), I’m ready to begin the rewrite.

Crap. Here’s Fear again, poking about.

Maybe you remember? As a kid, you stood on the rock and looked at the water below. Felt like you were fifty feet up. “Jump!” There’s a nano-second when you’re suspended, and your brain hits the pause button, you can’t decide if you like it, or if you’re scared witless. Gravity takes over; your stomach does some funky flip-flop and you’re in the water.

The point though, I guess, is this: What happens when we plot, plan, imagine and get creative? What happens when we see the world, people and creatures we’ve created in our minds-eye? What happens to our fear then?

I get a swirling sensation in my gut. Anticipation, possibilities, and that, will propel me through my fear.

Creativity. How marvelous is that!

I’m curious. What’s your story?

 

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Author: brindle808

I'm old enough to know better, and young enough to want to learn. I am a reflexologist, fantasy writer and daydreamer.

4 thoughts on “Writing beginnings. Or – propel through fear.

  1. Brin, great article. The pantsing piece is where I get my buzz, where I discover what’s going to happen. If I over think it nothing happens. My characters and I are just sitting there looking at each other. Pantsing takes you down blind alleys, and the rewrites and the chucking out tons of stuff and boy, have I done lots of those. So maybe there is some balance. It’s knowing roughly where you want to get each chapter and letting the characters take you there. I’d love to know how heavy handed the teachers were on plotting in the course you went to. Was it the guiding your characters or full on knowing Who is going where and why etc? chrissi

    • Hi Chris, Thanks for your comments! I think the pantsing/plotting debate is a ton of fun, always pros and cons on both sides! The weeklong was wonderful, and intense. Heavy-handed only if it was self-inflicted. The whole week is up to you; how intense, or how hard you push yourself. We covered many topics, plotting was one of them. I loved it, my head was full of new and exciting information. The exercises especially wonderful as I saw the difference immediately. For me, I believe I have an outline of where my characters are going, why they’re going there, but once writing, well … who knows?! I came away from it with a great appreciation for writers, and everyone involved in the writing world. Did I answer your question?

  2. Yes thanks Brin, that answered my question well. You captured the complexities of writing well. Its great to know that its not a linear journey for others as well. The more we learn the more we appreciate the skill when we read a novel that is so beautifully built. How the heck JK Rowling constructed 7 books where there was so much threading in and out of each novel from the 1st to the last is totally impressive, Have a great day.

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