Best Laid Plans

plans

One of the most interesting things, when hearing from other writers, is how they go about story creation and putting together their work. Some say they take it as it comes, they invent characters then start writing and see where it takes them. Others say they need to plan out every detail, scene-by-scene, or they just can’t operate.

It’s interesting to hear, because as with everything in writing – and indeed, any creative pursuit – there’s no ‘right way’. No one can tell you how to become a published author or how to write a great, resonant story, because there simply isn’t a prescriptive process. If there was, everyone would be doing it. Sure, you can follow certain examples, you can learn from what’s worked (which is, essentially, what you do when you read published books), but no one can say ‘this will work’ and ‘this won’t’. Because the truth is, it might. And it might not.

For me, as I continue to write, I can feel myself planning out my stories more, I have a more intuitive understanding of what it takes to write a novel, having been through previously. Ideally, that helps inform my writing process, and make my stories stronger – I’d like to think that I’m advancing, and that the concepts and themes I’m touching on are becoming more refined, more intellectual, even, yet without necessarily changing how they’re communicated.

In a recent interview, I heard an author talking about how political his work was, how his politics inform his writing and his sense of meaning in his work. But I think that’s true of all writers, even those who don’t mean it. Politics is part of who we are, part of our everyday existence, and the perspective you take, through your characters, will intrinsically communicate a form of political stance. The important part, for me, is less about the overt politics of this process, and more about the understanding, communicating the story you want to tell, and letting that tale inform the political aspect.

For example, when I’m writing, I use it as much as a means of understanding an issue or topic, as I do of telling a story. I have a theme I want to examine, but not definitive answers, and my aim, other than entertaining, is to try and get the reader to consider something from another perspective, outside of his or herself. That, in essence, is what all successful politics is about, being able to explain concepts in a way which enables constituents to better understand the varying perspectives – and in this way, I’d, ideally, like to think that my work contributes to opening new tracks of thought, as opposed to communicating a specific message.

I think that’s the same with all writers, yet it’s interesting to hear how they come to this, how some take a very deliberate approach to their subject, and others let it flow, and the themes and ideas reveal themselves.

As noted, there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but simply by exploring an idea, you’re likely going to touch upon those thematic points anyway. And once you realize the core messages of the story you want to tell, that’s when you can strengthen the narrative to reinforce that line of consideration.

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