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Writing in the Woods

March 23, 2010

For a while I have thought of writing fiction in the ‘paddling along the serpentine river’ way, going with the flow, finding out what’s next; but after writing my little post about that, I thought to rethink that analogy a little or at least to think in slightly another direction. Maybe creating stories is more like walking in the woods, along a path, and every now and then, you come to a split or a fork in the trail. You must choose another direction to proceed. Every story, is sort of like a ‘choose your adventure’ tale. You never can be certain where you will end up, when you begin. You may think that you know from beginning to ending, but if you are writing in an immersed (perhaps not unlike ‘method acting’, as some call it) way, you might find many surprises before you are done.

Based on my own experiences, I would say that it is great fun and even exciting to let the story and characters (with lives and minds of their own, apparently) guide you, rather than to stick to every pre-planned detail. If your story-telling process grows and flows in a natural way, it will create a better product than if it is stifled by rules and pre-set ideas. Don’t fence yourself in. Don’t try to write in an arbitrary corral. You’ll end up walking in circles as you write in a stagnated style: something stale. Walk into the woods. There is fresh air and some wild surprises out there in the woods. You never know what options will appear before you. Yes, you are your own guide in a sense, but there is a sort of spirit guide in the woods to help you.

Walk into the wilds of the woods and write as you go. At each fork or fan in the road or path, you will have to decide which way to then proceed. Each option will lead you in another direction, and the further you tread, the further you will be from where another path would have taken you. But don’t despair that you have gone awry. You can always take one of the other paths in another story. Whatever of worth lives in your mind’s eye can be found once more. Nothing good is ever truly lost. So, walk and write into the woods. No matter how dark and deep those woods, you won’t ever get lost. There is always a way to write towards the happy ending.

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