Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Learning Process

Do you ever sit back when you've finished writing a story and ask yourself what you've learned? I've been doing that quite a bit lately and I've found that each new piece I write teaches me something new about myself and writing.

Except for a few finishing touches, I've just finished my fairytale into crime story for John Kenyon's contest. What an interesting project that was! First, I picked a fairytale, printed it off and studied how the story unfolded and highlighted the major points of the story. With all of its twists and turns, it boiled down to a simple revenge story.

Then came the decision to keep it a straight crime story or attempt a paranormal mystery because you know, all fairy tales have magic in them. I decided to keep it straight which made the ending a bit of a problem as magic is the key component in the protag's getting his revenge.

I also found that taking another writer's story and making it your own can be a difficult. While you're trying to stay true to the outline of the story, you also have to change things to make it your own and not simply an imitation of the original. On paper I outlined the basics of the story but I discovered that I hate outlines. The story just didn't want to conform to the lines I'd drawn for it. In the end, I used about half of the outline and just tossed the rest, letting the story unfold the way it needed to be a new story and not just a copy.

So, I've rewritten my fairytale into a crime story and hopefully it works. But even if it doesn't, I've learned that I don't especially care for rewriting another writer's story and I really dislike outlines. What has your writing taught you lately?


pattinase (abbott) said...

This was so interesting. Can't wait to read it.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Fascinating stuff, Sandra. Love an inside look at the writing process.

I go back and forth on outlines. Lately I've been just scribbling down a few major plot points and some ideas about the characters before jumping in.

sandra seamans said...

Hope you enjoy it, Patti.

That's how I ususally work, Chris, plus if I get stuck I write my way out scribbling with a pen and paper. But I felt with this story that I had to stick close to the original story it was based on. It was certainly a learning experience for me.

G said...

I found that some of my biggest writing headaches involved rewriting old short stories of mine.

I would use the original story as an outline and try to write something that was tighter and more in my current voice than when I originally wrote the story.

John Kenyon said...

Thanks for pulling back the curtain on the process, Sandra. I look forward to reading it.

sandra seamans said...

I've found with rewriting an old story, G, it's best to just chuck everything but the idea :)

It was a fun challenge, John! Thanks for hosting the contest.