Know Thyself

I suppose I should have known myself better—I have been perhaps a little too optimistic about starting and finishing a manuscript in a year.

“But wait,” you say, “it’s only July! Surely there is enough time left? Surely you cannot be that slow of a writer?”

Alas, I am basically just that. Add to that, it’s also become apparent the story itself is the problem, getting into it’s own way and in mine.

I should clarify.

When the words strike me, when I sit down to write narrative with the intent to write narrative, nine times out of ten I do not write slowly: the actual act of writing the story itself goes quite rapidly. There are some times when a scene just doesn’t want to work, but even then I can usually push past it (editing will always be there to fix things), or simply put a placeholder down and move on to the next part. But the point at which I get completely stuck is when I don’t have enough background information.

I said before that the story I had earmarked for a “good first publishing novel” is a fairly straightforward one, and that remains true; but it is the world itself that it is set in that doesn’t have enough development for me to feel comfortable enough to sit down and pour out words.

In going along this journey of writing for at least part of a living, I am discovering a lot about myself as a writer—where my strengths lie, and honing them, what my weaknesses are and working toward being more aware of them and improving them, what my personal writing ticks are and if they work or if I need to work around them… and one of the things I find allows me write best is having an established world to work in. My largest work-in-progress, a medieval fantasy epic series, has the most developed world and history of all my works, and it is much more natural and organic and easy to work on narratives for it because I already have a lot to work off of.

Not having a very developed setting or history is fine for shorter stories, where it isn’t really needed (unless it is a series or set of vignettes in the same world), but for anything more in-depth and novel-length, I am finding that I have to have backstory, I have to have a decent amount of development in order to not stall on narrative. Which is, unfortunately, exactly what has happened for the shorter novel I was planning on trying to get out into the publishing world first.

I still plan to get to it, to write it and work on it, as I feel like it is a solid story and the world that I have in mind for it is rather interesting, but I need to make the back-history first, before any narrative can come.

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