Setbacks Lead to Progress (sometimes…)

Posted: October 23rd, 2023 under Characters, Craft, Horngard, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,

Leaving aside the concussion problems (and I would LOVE to leave them aside forever but apparently…that’s not on my Bingo card),  the times I’ve run headlong into a serious problem with a book–a book-stopping problem–it’s been because I didn’t think things through enough.  A lot of writing happens internally (for me, anyway)  and sometimes–just like missing your turn when you’re driving somewhere because you were thinking about something else–I’m writing merrily along talking on the mental device and fail to notice when I’ve missed the exit and need to look at the map.  What map? you ask, knowing that there is no actual map for a discovery writer like me.    Ah…but there is a sekrit, sekrit, unknowable map you have to take on trust, I say, when you set out to sail the perilous seas of fiction writing.

Going wrong gives you a chance to rethink, add thinking to a period of distracted un-thinking, and think better.  The tangle I found between “Bank Transfer” and Horngard II included multiple opportunities, and I’m glad sit here on a rainy morning, with chili being reduced on the stove to the correct thickness (the big kitchen spoon stands upright in it), the horses munching hay in their stalls, and a feeling of deep satisfaction because I went out at midnight, sniffed the wind, and shut the barn door off of the stall that has one.  (The wind smelled wet and tropical.  The rain source is that dying tropical storm of the Pacific coast of Mexico.  The wind had been humid, as if there was water up there somewhere, but smelling local–undertone of dry and autumnal.  The shift was very noticeable at midnight and so were the big fat wet clouds blowing across the moon.)  The smell of warm oceanic “wet” air masses is something you learn from many sniffs.

Day before yesterday, conferring with Rancherfriend E-, I decided that one change to grease the knotted ropes of the two stories would be a change in character.  Tried it out Sunday night, and yeah, it worked, in theory.  Then I went from blocking (jotting ideas down) to first drafting a new version.  Suddenly this character I’d never used as  a POV before took off down the trail like a rocket, trailing clouds of spent plot  and many words behind him.  VERY different from the guy he replaced or the guy who replaced him.   Didn’t need a nudge, or for the writer to suggest what he should do…he just tore off and did his thing and it was RIGHT.  There’s one tiger who’s not going to return to being “minor” again, I’ll bet.   Getting into the right person’s head–letting that person carry the story–really works.  Sometimes you have to step out, but it slows the story, makes it less immediate.


  • Comment by Jazzlet — October 23, 2023 @ 12:54 pm


    Glad you found a solution that has ooomph behind it!

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — October 24, 2023 @ 6:29 am


    Fascinating. I am glad you are managing to work things through. I find your ability to create characters very interesting – not only do they fit your narratives but they become as real as the main protagonists.

    From up here in New Hampshire where fall has fallen. The leaf season has been disappointing so far but the weather has been unusual.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 25, 2023 @ 10:19 pm


    Thanks, Jazzlet. Between having that demo of “trumpet in thick woods, hilly terrain with a loud little creek at the bottom” and having Clart reveal himself as a plot-generatiing POV character, I’m quite chuffed. BTW, there’s a new post you might like, with a rough sketch of the terrain of the action.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 26, 2023 @ 10:36 pm


    Jonathan, I saw some beautiful pictures online that I thought were probably New Hampshire…sorry your fall has been lackluster. I wonder where those other photos were taken.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — November 7, 2023 @ 1:34 pm


    Clart? Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time….. chuckling.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment