The Under Ground Writing Project

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Getting Tangled

Posted by Ali on December 12, 2012 at 8:30 AM

So, I've been working on this zombie story. I was looking at my little stack of pages, feeling pleased with myself, until I realized I had done it wrong. See, the story was supposed to go like this: Guy survives zombie apocalypse, guy meets gal, and then... things get weird.



I had a clear vision, I sat down, I started writing, and little by little, I got tangled. The bottom line is that the main idea of the story happens after the two characters meet and I was taking too many pages to get there. World building is a good thing, but I spent too much time on the stuff that wasn't important. In order to write everything out in a way that made the weird part balanced with the beginning, I'd have to write a much longer story than I needed. Otherwise, the end would feel lopsided.



Believe it or not, I (voted most likely to write too spare) had overwritten! Wait, unless... I hadn't. I started out with my vision, but sometimes, what you start out wanting to write and what you end up wanting to write are two different things. Also,by veering from my main plan, I wound up thinking about a third angle for the story. I'm not sure if it's where I want to go, but it's worth pondering.



To recap, right now, I'm trying to work out a knot. My options:

1. Scrap a lot of what's on the page and revise/continue writing to fit my original idea.

2. Keep writing along the path I'm currently wandering.

3. Revise/write to reflect another idea that's not quite 1 or 2, but something a bit different.



Ultimately, I have to answer some questions about what kind of emotional payoff I'm going for. If I go one way, it's a squirmy feeling. If I go another, it's still squirmy, but a little bittersweet (I hope). I know I want it to get uncomfortable, but what flavor of uncomfortable?



What's the last thing you wrote that went in an unexpected direction?

Categories: Writing Process, Revision/Rewriting, Short Stories

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1 Comment

Reply Debbie Meldrum
12:09 PM on January 11, 2013 
I think everything I've ever written got tangled at one point or another. Sometimes it's where the magic happens. In an attempt to avoid it, I will make not of the important beats I want to hit, including where I want to end. But I have to admit that in more than one instance, the tangles were the better way to go.

I'd advise not revising until the whole first draft is done. If you have too much, you an always cut. A nice change of pace, maybe? [don't hit] It's a first draft, it can be as messy as it needs to be. My personal preference right now is to go with it. That's why I don't show first drafts to anyone any more.

Follow the rabbit down the hole. You might find Wonderland--or at least wonderful.

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