Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Heavy Lifting

June 15th, 2012

There’s a theory out in the writing world that if you just keep writing, your subconscious will do all the heavy lifting, and out of the chaos a story will coalesce. Personally, I’m skeptical. Brainstorming sessions involving non-stop writing are great for generating ideas out-of-nowhere, and it’s not uncommon that I’ll get useful and spontaneous dialogs going between my characters this way. This is all very valuable stuff.


I’ve spent several days now coaxing into existence characters, plot, scenes, and general ideas for the new novel-in-progress. I’ve got several thousand words in “brainstorming” files and, much to my surprise, over 6,000 words of actual story. The catch is, the story so far is neither continuous nor coherent. I’m envisioning a book in four parts. So far, I’ve got the opening scene and closing scene of part 1, a tiny bit of part 2, some in-between stuff, and lots of ideas for what else needs to be going on in the first 15,000 words or so. But the ideas that I have are not organized. The conflicts aren’t clear. The groundwork on which the remainder of the novel will rest is not at all well-established.

So it’s time for some heavy lifting, which unfortunately for me is a conscious process. I would love it if my subconscious would take over plotting, but it hasn’t happened yet. For me, this is the fallacy of words-per-day writing goals. If I’m unsure of the details of the plot, or if I don’t have a real vision of the next scene, knowing what to write about is problematical.

So I’m off to try to hammer disparate ideas together into a coherent opening plot, in the hope that I can get to the point where writing the scenes is like taking dictation. That happened last night when I wrote the closing scene of part 1. Usually, writing is hard. When it’s not – when a scene just flows – that’s a rare reward, and one of my favorite moments of the writing process.

Posted on: Friday, June 15th, 2012 at 11:55 am
Categories: Writing.
Tags: , ,

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