A Writer’s View: Flowing Back And Forth

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

As I write “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet” I keep discovering more about it.  Perhaps I find a theme that I missed or that should be incorporated into the story.  Or I may realize I missed something and that I have rewriting to do. Or something just works better.

For awhile this was irritating, and sometimes I got jammed up around what I called “Big Rocks.” But the more I thought about it, this is normal and in fact, quite healthy.

Writing is really a method of discovery.  So you have to write in order to know what you’re writing.  In turn, you constantly find out more.

This is a lot like software – another insanely complex activity that involves people and information coming together.  As you code and develop you get more feedback and find more problems and get more insights.  This lets you improve the code – removing technical debt, adding new features, etc.

It took me awhile to get into this, but over time I began relaxing about it.  I saw it as a flow of information, the story constantly adjusting and adapting to my insights – again, just like software.

What I do is this:

  • First of all I keep a separate Brainstorm book on my story.  Every few days I review it and put the contents into my world guide, in a list on my story outline, or my other notes.
  • When writing I may get additional ideas and track them the same as my Brainstorm Book entries. or just go and revise some things right there.
  • I go through the list on my story outline every now and then and incorporate it into A) the existing story, B) the rest of the outline.  I make sure to go through each item and completely integrate it.

This gets easier and easier over time, and at about halfway through the book It’s gotten almost natural.  Almost – I still get a bit of annoyance when I revise things, but old habits, you know?

The quality is also much improved.  Each change seems to not only improve the book, but somehow make it more pure, more clear, more refined.  I expected it to become more complicated, but instead it’s more complex, richer, which somehow makes it more understandable.   The book, in its current state, is headed for something notably better than what I had when I started (in my opinion).

What’s really going to be interesting is how this applies to other stories.  If I’m able to edit better when writing, improving plot and characters, how much better will I be next book I outline?  I look forward to seeing what happens in the next book or other fiction pieces.

Of course I have to finish this one . . .

(Remember I do all sorts of books on creativity to help you out!)

– Steve