They say you shouldn’t get bogged down in the first few pages of your writing. They’re wrong.Read More
A diabolically simple answer to story structure questions.
Ever get approached by a mom, friend or relative with an offer to take handmade food off their hands? “Crap, I made too much of this dump pie / tuna casserole / hazelnut butter brownie loaf. Would you please, please take some home?”
You can give yourself the same delicious gift in your writing.
First, a disclaimer: if you know The Writer Coach paradigm, you know it’s all about the plan. We’re front-loaders around here, and that means don’t just sit down in front of blank glass and spitball at it. NO. Create your wonder-work step by step, building new work upon old. Turn an idea into a premise into a structure into an outline into a screenplay, presentation, webinar or whatever your final product is. Not only will your final draft be better for it, you’ll get multiple writer-gasms when all that early work starts to pay off in the final stages.
But to paraphrase Eisenhower (I think it was), once the first shot is fired, the war plan goes out the window. Just as you need to be structured and straited enough to build the all-important underpinnings of your project first, you need to be footloose and improvisational enough to abandon the plan when circumstances, intuition or inspiration calls for it.
A good example is writing the movie or TV scene. You’ve laid out the arc of your scene, which characters will be involved, how it begins and ends, and about how many pages it ought to run. Then you start to write, and you’re cooking. It feels good. It’s as close to something “writing itself” as you’ve experienced.
Well, don’t stop simply because the scene is over and your plan is executed. This is one of those times that you don’t drive according to the TripTik (see the Auto Club website for what the heck that is), you drive according to how much gas is left in the tank (or juice left in the Tesla). Don’t even pay attention to proper formatting. Drive! Stick a new scene heading in there if you’re writing a screenplay, or click up a blank slide for your Keynote deck if you have the presence of mind — just keep going.
You’ve just transitioned from writing to drafting.
“Drafting” is a term I use advisedly. It not only means that you’re writing off-plan; it means that you’re using the supersonic wedge of your inspiration to create a vacuum into which your stream-of-consciousness can flow. Just like the smartest drivers of race cars, you’re taking advantage of your speed and position to get farther, faster. But unlike those drivers, if you make a mistake (and you’ll make plenty), you can fix it later.
So hit the Pomodoro timer with a mallet and ignore those calls for dinner. This is no time to pace yourself. Go ahead and make too much.
You can always give the extra away later.
If you're a business writer, or even an aspiring screenwriter, the chances of your expressing your innermost self through your work -- and getting your audience to read or hear it -- are two: slim and fat.
That doesn't mean you should avoid writing passion pieces: oh, no! However, you should also endeavor to put a little piece of yourself, however small, in everything you write.