For the last year or so, I’ve been breaking new ground in my writing journey. I’ve been exploring the world of speculative or fantasy fiction. It’s been quite the adventure, stretching and challenging me like nothing I’ve written before, not even blogging.
It began as a challenge from my weekly writers group, the Solitary Scribes. I’ve mentioned them before. We’ve been together since early 2010, critiquing, brainstorming, teaching, and praying for each other. Two of the members write speculative. I had been writing primarily historical suspense.
The first was to write in first person. I usually write in deep third and in multiple third person. To write in first person led me to be more intimate with my character. It also meant I had to study other writers more to see how they approached it. I studied techniques for keeping the narrative varied and alive, how not to begin each paragraph with “I”.
And then, along about the third chapter, I hit a roadblock. I introduced a character and discovered she needed her own point of view and narrative thread. So do I write two first person point of views? Not sober. Now the story has first and third person narrators.
At times, I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants as my characters reveal more of themselves, the plot, and the story world on each page. I can’t wait to see where they take me next.
There have also been times when I’ve written myself into a box. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t be in this fix if I used an outline.
Praying through showed me a way to write myself out of the box. I free write possible solutions to the situation I’ve created, identifying potential scenes, new characters, surprise behaviors from existing characters, plot twists and other options. This free writing is a mini-brainstorming session. That one page of writing can carry me for hundreds of pages as the story continues to unfold.
Will I ever go back to outlining? I doubt it, at least not exclusively. The freedom of organic writing is addictive. The free writing exercise helps to envision possibilities of what’s to come without locking me into a rigid outline.
Have you ever tried new approaches to your writing, breaking away from what you’re used to and comfortable with? How did that go for you?