Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sharp Turns Ahead

I don't like riding on mountain roads. They make me queasy. I do, however, like driving mountain roads. When I'm in control of the car, I enjoy the feeling and the challenge of the twists and turns.

When I'm driving, I generally know where I'm going. I know approximately how long it is going to take me to get there. Most of us are pretty conscious of where we are going and how to get there. We know the routes, we know the short cuts, we know the detours. But when you drive a mountain road, things are different.

It's how I see my writing sometimes. Most of the time, the things I write follow a set path. I'm not saying they are stale and all the same, but I have a certain way of writing which guides me. I have certain themes I am comfortable with which direct my path. I can see the end of my story quite clearly, even with the turns in the road.

But the WIP I'm working on now is different. It is full of twists and turns I can't see. I know where I will end up, I have no concerns there. But I can't see it. There are too many bends in my road. It doesn't frighten me, I'm in control. When I'm driving on those roads, I enjoy the feel of pushing through a hard turn. The forces at work which allow me to maintain an certain speed and pull through the turn smoothly are exhilirating and I feel the same way when I write.

There's risk involved, of course, but I'm prepared. When I drive mountain roads I take the appropriate car. Instead of my SUV I take my Mustang. It is built low to the ground with a stiff suspension designed for handling. I'm the same way with writing. I use the tools and skills most appropriate for the story. The story I'm working on is full of adventure. Pacing is vital. It is moody in setting so I'm focusing a lot on description. It's dark, I've had to supress the one liners I tend to inject.

The idea is to always remain in control. Sharp curves are daunting and I certainly wouldn't recommend them to a new writer anymore than I would expect a newly licensed teenager to drive in the mountains. But if you pay attention and keep your focus on the road, it can be exciting. If you are confident you can find your way to the end of the journey, you can enjoy the adventure of the drive.

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