For reasons beyond my control, when I got home last night, I was pretty tired. And over the course of the evening, that didn’t improve. By the time dinner was over, I could have curled up in a little ball in my bed and slept until…well, I’d still be asleep now, if I had my druthers.
But something interesting happened and all that changed in a blink. It wasn’t the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me, but it felt…significant.
See, I decided I was too tired to write. I was sort of bummed out by that notion, because some good stuff happened Sunday night that helped me get going on a new book. Stopping because of weariness didn’t have much appeal. But when you’re wiped out, what can you do? Sometimes you need to rest, too.
Instead, for some reason, I sat down at my computer and launched my WriteMonkey file. And forty-five minutes later, I had added about 800 words to my WIP.
No fanfare, no hoopla, just…writing. I didn’t feel like it until I put my fingers on the keys, and then the next scene (which might need a tweak or two before it goes into the hopper) fell out of me onto the page.
It was weird. I stopped because it seemed a good place to stop, but I could have gone on if I’d pushed. Reaching a stopping point allowed me time to go to bed and just relax for a while, reading an amazing book called Writing to the Point by the late, great Algis Budrys. He’s one of the mentors who helped get Dean Wesley Smith‘s career legs under him.
I’ve learned some really good stuff there, too. It’s the first book I’ve seen which ties the character arc directly to the plot/story arc. Every milestone in the story is related to the character arc, and that’s cool. If you’re interested it’s available on Amazon, but don’t try to get the rare print version (it’s almost $400US). Michael Hague makes note of this pathway also, and he teaches it in his workshops and his book on screenwriting.
Anyway, if you’re a writer and don’t know how to tie the character and story arcs together, it’s not that hard. I know for me, it was sort of a new thing. I thought stories were about things happening. I’ve heard for so long stories are people that I just sort of ignore it now, but this is finally starting to sink in. Stories aren’t the events, though they can be interesting too. The stories are the reactions to those events by the characters in your story.
Whatever. I guess I’m dumb. But maybe that’s why my books don’t sell like I want them to. No one cares. There’s no tie-back from plot to characters.
Then, in retrospect, I sort of noticed I did do that in my last book. I mean, I didn’t have a conscious character arc defined or anything, but I noticed the character evolve and suffer from the choices made in the story. His decisions had ramifications on other characters, and those ramifications had an impact on my MC.
Going this way down the road might prove interesting, and I know if I ever want a rough, light outline for a book or story, I’m going to try the method I just learned in Writing to the Point, that’s for certain.
But, really, the most significant thing I learned in the last 24 hours, is that when I’m stuck and don’t seem to “have a story” to work on, the Writing into the Dark method says to sit at the keyboard and follow a character around in your head. See what they get up to, see what they find.
And then, let go and see where it takes you.
That’s letting the creative voice, the child-like writer mind, play. Explore. Have fun.
Maybe nothing will come out of it, but every word is practice, goes toward that first million. What’s it going to hurt?
In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I may just try that next time I hit a dry spell. I’m sure it won’t be long.