Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Surprise! Look what you just wrote!

This is the last post on my favorite instructional book, Finding Your Writer's Voice., and so I thought it only appropriate to end with chapter forty-two, which starts by quoting Robert Frost. "No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader".

Boxing yourself in with a strict plot line often leads to predictable pathways, and let's face it, there's nothing more disappointing than getting a third the way through a book and being able to guess with a 97% probability how it's going to end.

But, if only for a moment, what if you strayed? Sure, you might just waste time, but you also might find that your villain actually has a compassionate side, or there may be a hidden story swimming just beneath that set-in-stone structure you swear will assure your success.

Frank and Wall state " make something happen, you have to deviate from the intended story and write at the edges of the known. This often is a risky proposition, and indeed, it's probably one of the reasons writers are willing to spend hours writing lifeless, utterly safe revisions." 

By now I'm sure you've guessed that I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer. Pretty much my day-to-day existence thrives on a big wing, big prayer. I love swimming in the unknown, firm in the faith of my imagination. But I understand that to some this may seem odd, possibly just downright weird.

Some of the most successful authors would never write this way. They are incredible at their craft; using graphic organizers to help them see the contrast in their characters, having a formula for the flow of a plot. They've figured out what the masses want and they're more than happy to oblige. While I admire their ability to write stories in a concise manner and crank out great work, I often wonder what would have happened if they would have strayed a little, let that character fumble in the dark, taken a left when they had planned to go right.  It's an intriguing thought, isn't it?

Have you ever surprise yourself? Did it help your writing?