Sunday, May 24, 2020

Writing is hard

Column.

For the whole of my life, I've been dreaming about becoming a writer. I never thought I would ever write in first-person present tense. But actually, the longest (if not the best) story I've written so far is in first-person present tense. Scary.


Past tense


I've always been a great fan of first-person past tense (Zelazny's Amber as a prime example). Third-person past tense was fine as well. The few times I tried (to read) something first-person present tense it ended up being typical (and horrible) fan fiction, Harry x Draco, Hagrid x Dumbledore, you know the stuff. Hey, you actually might enjoy it, to each his or her own. But for me? Nah. So I pretty much never read present tense stuff, and definitely would never consider writing in that form.


Present tense


Until (I hope I remember this correctly) Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. So it was possible to read or write something decent in present tense after all. Hmm.

Now I'm nowhere near as good, except perhaps for the increasing numbers on the right and left bottom corners of the pages, mine increase by 1 as well every page... Still, I've been trying to get a few stories down on paper, and never could get it 'right'. So as a last desperate attempt, I tried to push myself by breaking up a larger story in small chapters, speedily written, YA oriented, suitable for online consumption.

That story (Have Hat Will Travel)... got stuck. I simply wasn't (and still am not) good enough a writer yet, in spite of (what I thought) a great idea and concept.

So I tried again, planning to throw in every trope I could think of, then twist it into a pretzel, not to build a complex story but simply to force myself to write. To learn.

Now that story (Kind's Kiss) is what I'm working on now. Actually, from an 'easy trope fest' it became layered, twisted, and due to the nature of the plot (which I can't disclose, heh) first-person present tense actually works.

Yep, even I can't believe it. And for a change I got the whole plot worked out, I know what's going to happen the next couple of chapters, have certain sections in rough draft, and it actually seems I'm going to finish this thing someday. Before Christmas. Now I only have to pick a year.

Ain't first-person present tense great? :-)


Wattpad


Yeah, you can find it on Wattpad. I'm 44 (short) chapters in, roughly 20k words, and over time I learned a few things.

1. It's impossible to become popular on Wattpad (but that wasn't the goal, so there)

2. I had (and still have) to learn a lot. Show don't tell was the first challenge. Pacing and chapter-length my second. And now there's punctuation. (I suck at commas.)

3. I also have to do some story planning. This thing was thought up and written 'on the fly', but by now I can see the wisdom of planning ahead and outlining some of the chapters. I probably won't do a full outline, ever, as that sounds too much like work 😉

So, there you have it. Writing is hard work.

If you're interested, you can find it here:


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