Monday 29 March 2021

Hurdles III - A Personal Insight into Writing by Howard Gibbins

  What hampers me is a big question, and one that isn't easily explained. Some people might simply say I procrastinate a lot, however, for the most part this isn't the case. Although, considering the amount of time I actually take to write a story I can see their point. One of the main things that slows me down, other than the fact I work in a job I really enjoy, and have a life away from a computer screen is that I like reading. This reading leads to me writing book reviews, which I publish every Monday on my Northern-Rambler blog. I do my best to alternate between fiction and non-fiction each week. I also try an review not only new books, but ones that people might have forgotten about from years ago.

    However, that being said one of the major things that hampers me down is plotting the story out as I enjoy reading a story that makes me think. Many people have given advice to beginning writers over the years, but one of the main points they all seem to agree upon is to write what you like to read, therefore I intentionally try and make my plots rather complicated. I realise that this means I will likely lose some readers, but then again I'm also pretty sure that once the word is out that it will gain me some as well. I'm not our to entertain people who read the classic comics versions of books and therefore scraped their way through high school. I am trying to appeal to people who like a good story.

    Plotting a story in this manner however, does have its drawbacks in that not only does it slow you down because you have to keep decent notes to know what is happening, when it happened, and why but unless you are extremely familiar with the subject matter (i.e., you live it day-to-day) you'll have to do something called research - sometimes a lot of research. By research though I don't just mean looking something up on Wikipedia either, granted I've done this, but it is rare that this service will answer all of your questions about a given topic. In fact, I'd say at least eighty percent of the time it will lead to more questions, which is generally why if I use Wikipedia, that the first thing I do after scanning the article is to zip down to the bottom and look at the references - and the more of these the better it is, and also for the most part the more you'll be able to trust the Wikipedia entry! On this same not if I want to put a scene or scenes in about something I know nothing about, then this will lead to even more research.

    Another drawback to this process is of course that you have to make everything fit logically. If say for instance in chapter 1 you have a person stranded on a deserted island with nothing but a penknife, they sure aren't going to be able to do much (a pen knife might cut through the stem of a coconut, assuming you have a handy coconut palm, and can climb it) but it isn't going to help you much, and if you suddenly have the character pull a tinderbox out in chapter 10. This is the kind of writing that causes books to be put in the gash bin.

    A semi-relevant example of this is that I started a story a number of years ago about what happens to some people who are stranded on an alien world. This led me to write a story about how they discovered the technology to get there, another about developing and extending that technology, and two more about why they left Earth to begin with. So five stories out of one idea, pretty good payback I figure.

    So yeah, I am hampered in my writing, and because of that I write slow, but hey who cares! I'm not out to compete with anyone!

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