prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)
[personal profile] prusik
I've been extremely frustrated of late by the story I'm currently working on. At first glance, there are so many things I need to in-clue before anyone has the first clue as to what's happening. On the other hand, the text can't actually hold all that in-cluing without sounding desperate (or worse, like exposition). Of course, I don't feel like I can do any of this until I know exactly what's happening down the movement of each molecule of air. Not to mention, every time I think about this story, I get the strange sense that I'm never going to hit an ending. (Most of you are probably ahead of me at this point. Yes, I was seriously over-thinking this.) The result was that either I stare frozen at the screen, or a write a lot of very desperate prose which fortunately no one will ever get to see.

Anyway, today was my last improv class of the term. (The penultimate class was the weekend of Boskone. We had a week off in between.) It was review, work on heightening emotion, and a preview of what we're in for next term. (We're going into long form. Our ten scenes all of the theme of travel worked surprisingly well.)

The thing about improv is that you get on stage without even the first clue as to what's happening. Then you're expected to construct a scene with your partner that, ideally, people will want to watch. (e.g., "You and Ian are eating at a restaurant. Go!") Personally, just the notion of improv scares me to death. For me, doing it is definitely an act of risk and commitment.

After several weeks of being skittish and unwilling to commit in my writing, today, I had probably the best improv session ever. (It's all relative, of course. The pros have nothing to worry about.) The instructor used me as an example of how much we've all improved this term. Even I thought my scenes worked. (I had several "Where the hell did that come from?" moments, in good ways.)

Of course, those scenes worked because I made choices, committed to them and just went for broke without worrying about whether they were any good or not. Sound familiar?

So, lesson learned.

I had to do some shopping after class. But after that, I didn't worry about in-cluing, what the long term structure was, or where the story would end up. I just sat down and wrote what had to happen at the start of the story. And look at that, it's coherent, and tells you unobtrusively what you need to know right now, and sets up the rest of the story. I don't know if I'll keep this opening. (Unlike improv, I'm not ultimately forced to keep my choices.) But it'll get me going to the next scene.

Trust the beast. Always trust the beast.

Date: 2008-03-03 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like that analogy. Thinking of first drafts in terms of improv does seem quite useful.

Date: 2008-03-03 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good lesson learned. One we all need now and again. I think too many of us get so tweaked by all the details that we overthink or freak out entirely.

Date: 2008-03-03 03:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad improv is helping your writing. I think it's smart to work in other artistic areas to help keep our writing fresh.

Date: 2008-03-03 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The thought of improv terrifies me. It's not so much that I feel out of control (although I'm sure that adds to it) but that other people are watching and judging. Very good analogy.

Also, I love "I write a lot of depsarate prose which fortunately no one else will ever get to see." Right there with you, man. I've heard Neil Gaiman talk about writing something similiar, waking up the next day, looking at it, and saying "That's actually not too bad." This is not my typical experience :)

Date: 2008-03-03 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I have no idea whether it's bad or good. I'm just glad no one gets to see it because it's not the right text for the story.

However, Cory says the same thing Neil Gaiman says. Maybe that's how you know when you've started writing consistently at a pro level?


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