Flames blaze through windows crawling upward toward the sky. Smoke billows from the exterior crevices. The heat growing increasingly intolerable. Clusters of neighbors congregate. Animals flee scurrying the impending doom. The blare of sirens heard a mile away. “Anyone in there?” The Fire Chief interrogates. “We saw the wife leave about an hour ago, but I think the husband is still in there. He rarely comes out.” Just then a car comes screeching down the street. “Wait, there she is. There’s the wife.” She had just returned from the store. Composing herself amidst the chaos she responds, “He’s still in there. He’s was trying to finish a chapter. He probably doesn’t realize what’s going on.”
When a writer is in his or her zone they become impervious to the world around them, just ask my wife. It’s not that things matter less, or what a writer is doing is more important and takes precedent over all else. What happens is; as artists, which is what we writers are, we focus on our medium – our words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, mechanics, rules, nuances, and the all the necessary components of writing, in hopes of conveying cohesive, uncluttered brilliant new ideas readers will find enlightening and entertaining. After all, we want to sell our work, and publishing is the name of the word game.
I don’t know if I chose to be a writer as much as writing chose me. I don’t recall thinking as a child, I want to grow up to be like William S. Gray (Run With Dick and Jane, series) or Herman Melville (Moby Dick). No. I think I recall wanting to be an astronaut and when that wore off it was a fireman.
Writing (explained in 500 words)
Writing is tedious and demanding. Will it be a short story, novella or a novel? What genre? Let’s see… well, there’s so many to choose from. I have it dwindled down to a few, so fiction or non-fiction? Think I’ll go with fiction. Time period? Perhaps the Victorian era, or futuristic; maybe I can make it a sci-fi. I have to commit. Ok. Modern-day fiction romance novel.
There’s the idea, now the concept, story line, plot. The meat and potatoes of the work. No story line, no plot, no book. It must be something that sets it apart; makes it different from all the others, so people will want to read it. Ok. Now we have a story line. Characters. How many? Don’t forget, a main protagonist and an antagonist. Maybe I’ll have an antagonist readers fall in love with and they’ll hate the protagonist. I wonder if that’s ever been done before? Now it’s time for the characters. Who? What names should I give them, what are their backgrounds, nuances, the things that make them tick? What role will they play? Work it all into the story.
Where? The story must take place somewhere, even if it is a sci-fi; it’s got an origin, and a destination – the setting. Now we are beginning to see a possible story, story line, plot, characters, and a place, the only thing missing… well, everything else. But before we go on, we must set limits. As writers and artist we tend to exaggerate our art, we go on, and on, and on, and… Well, we must set limits. Publishers have strict guidelines.
So now, we are limited to a set number of words in which to tell our story. The story we have yet to develop. Should I worry about a title; think I’ll wait and see what pops up. Now the “important” stuff. “Show don’t tell”, or is it “tell don’t show”? It’s so hard to keep all the rules and regulations straight. Make sure I get all the details in the setting without being wordy; nobody wants to be burdened with extraneous reading.
Try to recall; I must present conflict, action, and resolution? Is my story too linear? Is there too much of this and not enough that? Oh, shoot, I think I forgot something important, what was it again? Did I “cut” everything I could and trim, trim, trim? Take out anything that does not “add” to the story. Does it speak to a higher purpose; add something to the meaning of life, or does it just regurgitate rhetoric? I must use my thesaurus, I want to expand the possibilities, but I don’t want to sound overly intellectual. I’ll be rewriting several drafts, I always do. And there’s the failsafe, I will be passing this through my writer’s workshop group, so if I miss something hopefully they will catch it before it gets to the editor. Now that everything is in order.
Finally! I can begin to write the story…