Writing Wednesday: My Struggle with Additive Creativity

Last Week’s Goals

My blog entries were all posted on schedule, and all my available stories are back out to market. I was reviewing my submissions spreadsheet, and noticed that I should have had a response on one of them a couple of weeks ago (I keep my own records on personal experience with each publishers slush piles, so that I know when a story might be overdue for a return.) Fortunately, this publisher gives me a link so I can check the status of my story in the queue, and it’s still waiting for review. I wish all publishers did that.  

In marketing, I continued promoting with Indies Unlimited Thrifty Thursdays and Kindle Unlimited Fridays every week. January 29th (this Friday), “Purr Mission” will be featured by YourNewBooks.com in their newsletter and on their website. I’ll tell you the results next week.

Seven days of fiction writing produced 4,603 words, again making my new 3,500 word quota. The draft of Swordsmaster: Deception is now over 87,500 words.

The Madness of My Method

For all of my writing career (for purposes of this discussion, I am not referring to career being understood as a money-making, self-supporting venture. Instead, reference a mash-up of the following two definitions:

  1. a job or occupation regarded as a long-term or lifelong activity
  2. a rushing onward while lurching or swaying

and you will have an understanding of exactly what I mean by my career), I have largely avoided outlines. I have used them loosely for my novels (Swordsmaster and the current draft of Swordsmaster: Deception), and on occasion I have attempted them for a couple of stories of novelette-length when I was having trouble keeping track of plotlines or structure.

I didn’t have an outline for Swordsmaster until I had completed the first draft and wanted to make sure I didn’t have any holes in the plot-lines. Of its own, Swordsmaster (over decades of thinking about it) had coalesced around four set scenes (exile, discovery, escape, and resolution – I would be more specific =, but as few people as have read it – HINT, HINT – that would definitely require a spoiler alert) which is in it’s own way a type of outline. Completing the novel was a matter of deciding how to transition between those four scenes.

Swordsmaster: Deception didn’t have the advantage of four decades of thought behind it. Yes, it’s still the same world of Swordsmaster, so I don’t need to rethink what that world is like, but the plot itself hasn’t had as much time to (ferment? distill?), and so in my perpetual efforts to become better at my craft, I adopted a variation of Joe Nassise & Nick Stephenson’s Story Engines for my outline. Even this was after tens of thousands of words were on the page, but once I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going (in Story Engines, what my three Game Changing Moments and Conclusion would be.) The outline was designed to help me decide on the plot’s path between those moments, but just as in any battle plan, my outline rarely survives the first encounter with the enemy (meaning that once the words start flowing, the story tends to go where it wills.)

Wait – am I calling THE STORY my enemy? Not at all, but the way that stories evolve in my mind (that IS where they come from), my method IS the enemy of an organized outline. Bringing the plot to a semblance of viable structure is not like a simple set of instructions for assembling a bookcase. It might resemble growing a bonsai tree – directing its growth through micromanagement. But no – in my case, it’s more like breaking a wild stallion – at first, I hold on for dear life as I give the animal its head and let it go where it will at first (within limits) and gradually learn enough about the animal’s habits and tendencies to push it in a direction easier to understand and control (and no, I have never ridden – let alone broken – a horse, and I don’t know where all the words and ideas in that analogy came from – they just did, like so much of my writing.)

My writing is additive.

When I write a short story, it is more reined in, not being long enough for the plot to run completely off the range I thought I was wriding. Novelettes (mostly Herc Tom and Detective Jimmy Delaney stories) are a little looser, but still don’t cover enough ground very often to become lost.

Novels are a different, bigger,  and stronger animal. One idea, one small detail, begets another thread. Words build upon words, in a sort of associative flow, like in the rumor or telephone game where knowing the first word almost never gets you where you thought it did.) For me, character conversations seem to cause more story branches than anything else does – perhaps natural since dialog is the easiest thing for me to write without thinking (we can blame my years in the theatre for that…)

The creative impulse is strong with this one.

(My apologies for the adaptation, Darth…)

Inspiration often runs rampant across the barren plains of my mind, which is why it is so hard for me to predict and control how much effort it will take to rein it all into something readable. Well, I will wride the beast back from wherever it’s going.


Just saying…

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For information on my current promotions (including the FREE Presale and reduced price preorders for Cats of War III, my participating books in the 14th Annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, as well as FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!


or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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