Saturday, November 28, 2009

A larger story

I reread the novella that I’ve been trying to condense into a shorter story, and it was immediately obvious to me that there was too much going on in it to fit into one story, so I’ve been trying to split it into two separate, but connected, stories.

This, however, has not been working.  The different events are interwoven in the original version (more by accident than design), and separating them into two distinct stories seems to weaken both.  They need each other.

And so it is that I suddenly find myself working on a novel instead of a short story, which means doing a bit of outlining first to figure out which areas to expand and where new material needs to be added, etc.

I never expected to be the sort of writer who outlines novels before writing them, but in a way it’s turned out to be my favorite part of the process-- dealing with the plot as a single, fluid idea, rather than concentrating on the details.  It’s like sketching out the composition for a painting with broad, free strokes, working fast and loose.  It’s the part where I get to figure out what happens; writing the novel itself is usually a task of translating the vision into language (though there are still surprises, such as when I discover a character can’t follow the original plot because it requires them to do something that they wouldn’t actually do).