Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Road Diverged

I had to make a difficult decision before I could even start chapter 4. It's something I've confronted before in my writing. I'll get to a point in the story where the plot could easily, and plausibly, go in two very different, distinct directions.

Choosing between these directions is not easy. And frankly, though Robert Frost was a brilliant poet, taking the road less travelled isn't always the answer. I believe in the story above all else and I'll write whatever the story needs. For me, it's not about shock value or controversy. It's about crafting a well rounded story. If the story requires shocking moments, etc, I'll write whatever is needed.

So that's what I've been thinking about. Which direction would lead this story forward to make it all nicely well rounded? This is the kind of thing that can make writing seem like a lonely profession because no else can make this decision. I could talk to friends for feedback, but sometimes feedback can be distracting. It's my responsibility as an author to make this decision.

For simplicity's sake, I'll call it Direction A and Direction B. Direction A is a fascinating idea that would be a lot of fun to explore. However, Direction A was not a part of my outline, so if I explored this direction it's possible I'll end up writing a very different book than what I intended.

Direction B is closer to my outline and explores the main character more, thus giving potential readers more they can relate to. Direction B also requires more thought towards the dynamics between the major players in this story. In essence, Direction B would take more work, the kind of work that would take a lot of brain power.

Direction A would be more fun to write, which can sometimes be more fun for the readers. Direction B would be more rewarding, and follow a logical path with the main plot line. And all of this is only for chapter 4. Yeesh.

So here's what I've decided. I've made a note of Direction A and filed it away. As a subplot it could most definitely work, but I decided to place it in Book 2 rather than Book 1. Thank god I'm writing a series. Otherwise I would seriously panic at the lack of writing space. So, I've discovered a major advantage to planning 3 books ahead of time. If I like a direction, but I'm not sure it fits for the current book, I can always save it for the next book. Nothing is lost and I can keep going.

I may not have chosen a road less travelled, but I've chosen Direction B because I've decided it's what the story needs.

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