In my junior year of high school I used a program called One Year Adventure Novel to help me plug through my first novel. The finished result: 350 pages, 66,134 words of non-stop action. It's not called an adventure novel for nothing.
Death. Captivity. Revolution. Betrayal.
One girl, enslaved to herself, trying to free her world from the twisted snares of her uncle.
I love my manuscript, raw and real as it is. I would love to see it cradled by a loving hardcover binding.
But I had to remind myself where this novel came from. It was an un-formed idea floating around in my head until I learned how to set it down in an orderly way. Chapter by chapter, character by character, disaster by disaster, dilemma by dilemma, plot twist by plot twist . . . I learned how to tell as story.
But now I have to remind myself where a story really begins! Since finishing my novel, every time I've gotten inspired by a new idea, I've found myself falling into the rigidity of a step-by-step process.
That process was brilliant to help me learn, to help me plug through, to help me finish. But now I have to remember - a story begins as a free-form idea. The rest has to flow from there. Keep the structure that you learned in the back of your mind to guide you, but let your ideas take their own course, instead of trying to shove them into an ordered list of steps.
Am I alone in this "need" for a step by step? Does anyone else ever feel that they rely too much on an ordered structure to write? Has anyone else had their inspiration sucked out by a step-by-step structure, or lost their love for writing because they constrict themselves?
I am in the midst of brainstorming for The Vision Forum Family Catalog 2012 short story contest. I refuse to let myself become constricted by a structure! Let the story come as it may come.