Don’t Overthink the Story

Don't Overthink the Story

Is it just me that when I get twenty or so pages into a story and I think it is all just a bunch of crap?  I have a continual problem with going back and re-reading instead of just letting the words flow.  Many of my English classes promote the free-flow writing exercise.  I have come to love this exercise, which has helped immensely with my work thus far.  Sometimes you don’t know where to begin or where to go.  Free-flow writing can help you at least get something out.

Now here is the rub.  We have this inner critic that just wants to go back and change whatever gibberish we wrote.  We must overcome that voice and that editor.  We must take on the part of the writer.  Just pure creativity flowing through our fingers and onto the page.  It really doesn’t matter if it makes sense.  It could be out of order; we just want to get as much on the page as possible and then go back to it to see what we can take from that session. 

Depending on the story that you are going for, there is always some form of research to go into.  Whether it is the setting, time, clothing, or dialects, you want to immerse the reader in that world.  Research is great, but sometimes we get sidetracked from the story at hand and bog ourselves down with the little details.  I am not saying that you don’t need to do any research, I am just saying that there will be time to do that later.  I have a rather large story, on the level of creating a mythical land, where I got so bogged down on the details and what it would look like, that no story was really being written.

You have a great idea; you want to get it down.  Even if it is disjointed and not in any form of order.  It doesn’t matter.  You want to be able to get down that idea and then move from that stage.  I have found creating character sketches to be a great dimension to add.  Perhaps you want to write but you are not sure how to bring that character to life.  A character sketch can make you sit down and think of their personality, where they came from and their general look.  Having that three-dimensional view of your characters can make them come to life on the page.

All in all, I am just trying to say that while it is great to get everything down and ready for the final stage of a novel or short story.  But in the very beginning points of that spark of creativity, you want to just let that flow and then you can mold you further down the journey.  The story is very fragile in the beginning, and you don’t want to snuff it out with all the unnecessary baggage. 

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