Writing Reflections: A Change in Style

Typewriter on Table
Photo cred: Stocksnap.io

A lot happened this summer. As I mentioned in my last post, it was the best (and busiest) summer ever. As a result, I had to step away from writing for a bit. For the first time, maybe ever, I let myself be okay with the fact I wasn’t writing. I even spent some time wondering if wanted to keep writing at all.It was a weird time for me creatively. Luckily I came out on the other end still wanting needing to write. But I realized that if I wanted to keep writing, I needed a change in style.

I’ve known I’ve needed a change for a while now. Years probably.  Prior to this summer, writing had become burdensome. For so long I had wrapped up such a large part of my identity into being a writer it became more obligation than pleasure. That was not okay. I needed to figure out why that was and how to fix it. It has taken some time, but I think I’m beginning to figure it out.


For as long as I’ve been writing, I’ve loved world building. I think it’s why I find myself trying to write post-apocalyptic or science-fiction rather than anything set in today’s world. It’s the details that I love.  There is nothing that scratches my creative itch more than figuring out exactly how every day life would look like if we lived in a different world. I geek out over the history and lore of how and why things in this “other” world are the way they are. It is where I have always felt the most creative.

There’s only one problem with that:

It is incredibly hard to find a story to fit the world I’m building.

I think that is the exact reason that I have struggled so hard to finish Mountain Division, the novel I’ve been working on since college, or floundering on Black Knight: Arrival, my last attempt at a novel. The world I’ve created for Mountain Division or Black Knight is far more interesting to me than the story I’m trying to tell about it. Actually, if I’m being honest, the stories I’m trying to tell is really only there so I can show off the worlds I’ve created.

I do this to myself all the time. I think of a world that would be cool to create and try and find a story that allows me to do that. The major flaw with this method of thinking is I never know what end I’m working towards (other than an awesome world) and if you’ve ever tried writing, you know it’s hard to know what direction to go if you don’t know where the finish line is.

Authors J.K. Rowling and the late Robert Jordan are great examples of how to do it the right way (in my opinion). Despite having tens of thousands of pages worth of material, both Rowling and Jordan said they knew the final scene or line before they ever wrote the first.

Now I’m not saying there’s only one way to successfully write a book. There are as many good ways as there are published books in the world. I’m just saying that way I was doing it before wasn’t working. So I’ll need a change in style.

In theory, the solution is simple. Find a story to tell, create a world that helps you do it. In reality however, stories aren’t as easy to come by as you might think. It needs to have the right combination of a number of things:

The good news is I’ve finally found a story that I want to tell.

I’m hesitant to say more at the moment though. The idea for a story is quite a fragile thing at first.

Until next time,

-C

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