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This week I have been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching (Yeah, I know I sound like a pansy). I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what direction my blog is heading in and if I like that direction or if maybe I should try and change course. Just a fraction of a degree over a long enough distance can make the difference between Antarctica and the Virgin Islands. I have been really enjoying my opinion articles (and I hope you have too), so I am definitely going to be keeping up with those. I also really do like writing fiction, that is what I am most interested in right now, and that I why I started my blog in the first place. A lot of this thinking has been invested towards where my fiction is going.
Speaking of which, that brings me to the main point of this article. For a while now I have realized that one of my best traits in writing fiction has to deal with the setting or world building if you prefer. It is something that comes very naturally to me probably as a result of all of the roleplay I used to do as a kid. The thing that doesn’t come very naturally is a good plot. I have been grappling with a really weird dilemma, you ready? Are you sure? Alright, all week I have been debating the ethics of building a story around a setting. I’m weird, right? I have always viewed a good plot as the backbone to the story, with things like character detail and world building merely features that add to it. Hold on here, if the goal of writing in to create something meaningful that people want to read, then the internal struggle I am having is really a result of not being sure if I can create a story surrounding a setting that people will want to read. With said goal in mind, all questions inevitably lead back to that central concept.
Now, writing something people want to read is not my only goal. I have several reasons that I write:
- As a Christian, I write to glorify God, which is one reason that I will never create erotic content in my writing, even though it could very well lead towards there being a greater desire for my work.
- I write for fun. Let’s face it, when you average under five views a post, you aren’t doing it for the fame, and I am NOT a good enough planner to think long term about growth charts and what not.
- As I already mentioned, I want to write something that inspires people. I guess you could say that is where my inner artist shows itself.
So? What do I do now? I have ideas. I have queries. But I don’t have concrete, tangible material. The problem with writing a 60,000-80,000 word document is that planning at the beginning is everything, especially for new writers looking to enter the field. What happens if you write a story, spending countless hours perfecting it, only to find out nobody wants to read it? Want then?
Herein lies my dilemma: How do I figure out how to write something I know people will love? This is a question that I have made a lot of progress towards asking, but only some progress towards answering. The thing that must be considered, is that writing something as big as a novel is a gamble. As are most things in life, writing comes with some degree of risk. I was reading an article the other day about how much most full-time writers make and it kind of just made we want to die a little on the spot. I mean, if people can devote their whole lives to such a pursuit and pretty much fail, what hope do I have?
One of the things that I have answered so far is this—a writer is a compilation, conglomeration, hodge-podge, assortment etc. of every writer who every inspired them. So one of the keys to good writing is understanding what makes the other books that we know and love good. Let’s take Hunger Games as an example, I think it makes a great illustration for a number of reasons. Here you have a lot of elements that come together to make a really good story that was well-loved by millions.
Let’s take a look at some of the key aspects of the books:
- It portrayed an unwilling hero. Normally, authors portray willing heroes. What do I mean by an unwilling and a willing hero? A willing hero is someone who hears the call to action and takes the lead. An unwilling hero is someone who takes the call to action not out of some sense of higher calling but because she must in order to protect those she loves. I must say, Suzanne Collins played it well. Fans loved it. But why? Why was the character of Katniss Everdeen so well loved? I think it was in part because she was so relatable and because she was inspiring. She was willing to sacrifice anything for those she cared about, and that will always be an admirable virtue.
- The second element that I loved so much about hunger games was the cultural and political atmosphere. Who didn’t become fascinated with the sharp contrast to the way of life in Panem, the districts and District 13? It was so totally bizarre. It truly made you feel like you were stepping into a different world.
These reasons are why (at least in part) I think that Hunger Games was so well loved. And if we look around at other books and movies I think these reasons will prove to be generally true constants:
- We love it when stories give us relatable characters that inspire us.
- We love immersing ourselves in well-developed worlds.
There is one key aspect that I left out in this discussion. Plot. As a novice writer I am still working out what it is, exactly, that makes a plot good. So I have decided to discuss this topic separately. I might even do a YouTube video on it as it may be easier to explain these jumbled up thoughts I am tossing around. Thanks for reading guys! Have a good one!
…So speaking of thinking, I have been doing a lot of it this week specifically about where Prison is heading, and I have decided to take a little break from it. I plan to continue work on it, but I feel like it just isn’t a very marketable idea at the time. This break could be over by next Tuesday, or it could last a little longer. In the meantime, I will be keeping up with my regular schedule (obviously) and I am going to start experimenting with different ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for reading! See you Sunday!