e finally made it to the big one: writing! As I struggle through this insanely risky venture in the art of letters, naturally the bulk of my non-fiction collection is about writing itself. Writing and Thinking go hand in hand. These days, if I’m not actually putting words on a page, I’m thinking about those words, or those ideas, actively pulling in little bits of inspiration and storing them in the apothecary chest in my brain until maybe one day they’ll be useful. But when I get down to it, to physically sitting in my seat, opening a fresh Word document to put all those ideas down into something more or less resembling a story, there comes a huge moment of Conflict & Suspense. On the one hand, I really want to get this idea out, because it’s OMG the greatest idea ever and will revolutionize the genre, I’m poised and ready and I want to go, go, GO! On the other hand, the ideas that float nebulously in my brain resist condensing into something more decipherable to other, alien heads. In theory, a book is just a series of words artfully arranged in such a way that the reader goes, “oo” and ‘ah’ and in general has a good experience. In practice, however, Plot & Structure get mixed up in these fantastic ideas and create just a jumbled mess that even I can’t understand. And I wrote the damn thing.
It’s a bit like trying to weave a rug. You know basically what a rug looks like, and you know what sort of pattern you want in your rug, and the colors you want use. Except all your yarn is tangled into knots that you have to unwind before you can even start weaving. Oh, and somebody turned out all the lights. Good luck.
Fortunately, The Story Solution to this mess is within arms reach, and it’s so ridiculously obvious that many people overlook it. It comes in two parts: practice, and trial and error. Art has no magic formula, as much as some people would like to sell you one. Art evolves every day, and what works or has worked in the past, won’t do you any good in the future. And yes, there are no more original ideas. There are only 20 Master Plots (depending on who you talk to) and we can only work within the limited structure of what is, in fact, a story. It’s adding our own Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint that makes our own individual stories unique, and some stories sink or swim by their Description & Setting alone.
What we really need is to start a Dialogue. To get together and discuss our Strategies of Fantasy until, as a genre, as small pockets of writing collectives and as individual writers, we each have our own Fantasy Reference guide.