Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


To Know or Not to Know

Since I prefer to know my endings in order to have a sense of where I am “going” in a story, I usually do not start until I have at least a fairly good grasp of my characters, plot, and resolution. Even with this “security,” in the course of writing I frequently veer off into unforeseen directions, and occasionally wind up changing my original ending. Still, the fact that I think I know where I’m going gives me the nerve to begin a story in the first place.

This winter, though, I have been stuck for quite a while on several different projects and so I decided to try a different approach. For one story I had a few characters, a setting, some scene ideas, and a quest. I knew where the characters would go and where they would physically end up, but I didn’t really have a firm grasp on who these characters were, what would happen along their journey, or what would serve as the climactic emotional turning point. So I dove in and just started writing. This was dangerous territory for me—shutting off my inner critic and allowing myself to simply explore the world I was inventing as I went along without worrying about whether it would all work out or not. I figured, “Hey, at least I’m writing.” To my (grateful) surprise, characters began evolving, new scenes started popping into my brain, and I stumbled upon an emotional climax that was both unintended and satisfying!

I still like to know where I’m going in a story, but if I’m stuck, I learned this winter that I don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike—I can go find it!


Lauren said...

Bravo Mark! Your story of just diving in gives me courage. It feels a bit like a lesson in living life itself~ When you don't know how it ends, just dive in and explore, things will unfold. Very exciting!

David LaRochelle said...

I think you've discovered one of the key secrets to writing, Mark: just keep writing, even when you are unsure. I, too, am amazed at what comes out of my pencil if I just keep it moving across the page.

Christy said...

Mark, this is terrific advice. I am so eager to read your writing. You have my curiosity up about this new exploratory work.

Edie Hemingway said...

Your writing process sounds like a great adventure and inspires me to keep working on ideas I wasn't sure were worth pursuing.

john said...

Very well put, Mark. You describe something we can all connect with and I'm glad it led you places that you really did want to go.

betsy woods said...

Mark, this is beautiful.