Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Side Roads Of Story Creation

If you have a keen sense of the value of evolution, never be rigid with the first draft of any concept.  Ask my good friend the dinosaur about that.
The original concept is the stem, or the main road, but some other branches can take off from the stem, and these in the long run bear the precious fruit or answers or story that we are seeking for.
If you follow the main road forever you will never reach your destination, you will only but get near it, but not there. 
In order for you to get to the destination, you have to turn into a little side road, but not a detour as this will make the journey even more taxing.
The main stem of a tree aims at nothing but the open sky, the main road to the heart of a city, but the branch from the stem aims to bear flowers or fruit, and the side roads bring us to our homes.
Some stems can bear fruit, but these are not in the majority.
This is easily applicable to the arts, or writing.  We start a story with a concept that feels and sounds so good that by merely thinking over it we feel this is the main road that you will follow until you reach the conclusion.
Well, some do that and produce good stories - maybe, as I have never met anybody who has done so yet. 
Some follow this initiating concept until they reach a blank wall, and they put their story to rest, hoping that a blessing will fall on their shoulders from the heavens one day and they be able to continue with that same spine of the story till they have a book at the end.
Sometimes that can work, and sometimes that can result in a very frustrated writer. 
But why wait?  Why not re-read the story from the beginning with a pen poised to break away from the main story should any hint of opportunity present itself in the storyline even if you have just revised one paragraph of the first chapter?
Even rivers burst their banks to form new streams that will one day become new rivers.
We know it is traumatic to dump a baby.  Our stories are our babies.  But these are fictional ink and paper babies.  The laws of any state in the world allow you to dump them at any moment should you feel like it.  No one is going to arrest you for it and send you to the hangman.
And do you know something?  Should you have an aversion of leaving your story for the promising branch, there is an easy way out. Copy and paste the story on to a new page leaving the original still intact. Title the new story revision 2, and then have a go on it with scissors and cut and branch out on it where you were afraid to do so on the original draft, for after all, the original draft is still safe and sound on another page.
As you are doing this, keep telling yourself you are experimenting on this copy, yes it is a copy of the original, just as that photocopy of your birth certificate - you can delete, yes even change titles as you like.
You can even send the entire new document to trash if you want to should you not be satisfied with it, for your original draft is still intact isn’t it so?
But tell you what, treat the re-write with caution, because it has the power to bloom that can never be explained to anyone…