Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Monday, 31 March 2003

Ah, some good writing for a change. It's an idea I'd been struggling with before, but a new, completely different version. I wrote about 500 words. I also wrote about as many words of notes on how the story ought to go.

Something unrelated had reminded of an article called "The Writing Process" by Jane Espenson, one of the writers for Buffy. When they're writing an episode, she says:

We spend a lot of time discussing her emotional state, and how we want her to change over the course of the season.... Notice that the episode ideas begin with "what is she going through" and never with "what would be a cool Slaying challenge?"

That, in turn, reminded me of Geoffrey Landis's model for plot, that the character is forced to make a choice, show that choice through action, and then the action needs to have consequences.

People who talk about story often say that you need to have a character with a problem. But really, in the end, you need to have a character with a solution. In the past I've often tried to write my way to the solution, figuring, "Oh, it'll be something like this." Lately that hasn't been working so well. So, this time I'm doing it a bit differently. I picked a story where I sort of knew what the solution had to be and worked backward. How does the character come to the point of making the decision I want?

We'll see if this works better. In any case, I've really enjoyed today's writing.


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