Writing Equations

Blog No. 68

It seems that the weeks have been going by much more quickly this year (over last year).  I know everyone (including me) says that every year goes by more quickly than the last, but it seem that in this year, for the last two months, time has blinked past me.  I’ve heard it explained that the older you get, the less percentage of your life is in a year.  Therefore each year of your life is smaller than the last.  I believe that.  I seem to be finding the weekly blog springing up on me more often and while I had an incredibly productive January, I have had a much less productive February.  With that in mind, I am still writing more than I ever have before.  I still struggle with sitting down to write every day, but I find at least four days a week I have something new in my notebooks (and that’s an improvement).

I managed to finish a story this month (even if my novel is still at a paltry chapter five).  I’m not sure how good it is (the story, not the novel), but it has a ‘the end’ at the end so, yeah.  The novel, I know, needs work.  It just doesn’t come as easily as the short stories do.  Going back to the story – have a bit of a problem with it.  I like it, but it ended up being nothing like the idea I had in my head when I sat down to write it.  I find that happens a lot with my short stories.  It’s even worse when the story is from an idea I had a long time ago.  I work out some key elements in my head, try to pin down a feel and get to writing.  Then somewhere after the opening few paragraphs it becomes an entirely different entity.  I know authors say that characters and stories have a life of their own, but I haven’t been able to write a single story I initially intended to write.

I feel like I want to go back and write the story I initially intended to make one day, but I also want to keep moving forward and continue to explore both the ideas and my writing.  (I really don’t want to pull a George Lucas).  I still have a comic and a script I’d like to make and a whole bunch of other story ideas bouncing around in my head.  Normally I can just shrug it off and move on to the next story, but this last one ended up being so different from the initial idea that I feel I had to rant about it.  I don’t mean that I don’t like the story.  It’s just not the story I had intended to write.

Do stories end up they way they are supposed to?  Is there some cosmic intervention or tragic human flaw that ensures that the story won’t end up the way it was supposed to (for better or worse)?  Maybe the story still has the same theme, or similar elements and that’s as close as we can get.  Maybe the story wasn’t any good and the characters knew it and did something different to make it better.  Maybe the idea would have worked in a different medium, but not as a short story.  Maybe I’m just reading too much into it and I should be happy I managed to write a story at all.

Look at hitchhikers guide to the galaxy (and you really should).  It started as a radio show on BBC then became a series of books, a TV show and a movie.  Each iteration of the story is different.  They have the same beginning and the same themes and generally the same plot (except for the books that continue further on in the story), but the stories vary with the different medium (and I’m sad I can’t seem to come up with a better word for it).  They work as the entity they are and the differences fit the telling.  Then there is Blade Runner vs Do androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  The movie is excellent (at least the director’s cut is) bit it is very different from the book.  I think taking an idea from a novel and making an entirely (or almost entirely) different story is about the only way you can make a good movie based on a book.  I think I should point out that there are plenty of movies that are ok, but the book is always better.  Blade Runner happens to me the only one I can think of that is independently a good movie and a good book and they story had to be radically altered to achieve that distinction.

My point is that I find it really weird that the story I set out to write isn’t ever the story I end up with.  It may be for the best, but I have no idea.  The only thing I have been able to come up with is that: ‘The story you come up with is directly proportional to the one you write based on the time it takes you to get to it and the time it takes you to write it’.  I’m calling it the equation of writing, even though it isn’t an equation and it has little to do with actual writing.  But I wrote it down – so that’s something.

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4 thoughts on “Writing Equations

  1. Christian Laforet

    It is funny, I’m usually in the same boat. I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that turned out to be the story I actually intended to write. The way I look at it though is that as long as the finished story is good, then you just wipe the sweat from your head and move on. However, if the finished result is radically different, then you could always attempt to write that original vision again and could potentially end up with two stories for the price of one lol.

  2. Christian, always with the positive thinking. I do have to agree with the concept of just moving on. I would take it a step further. It doesn’t matter if the story is any good or not. you just have to get to the end and move on to the next. Just make sure to learn something from it.

  3. Much like the two of you I’ve often felt the same thing. The story that I started off trying to tell becomes something different. Maybe the themes stay the same, but the characters and their motivations change. One thing is especially when we are mining through ideas and concepts we came up with in the past even if it wasn’t that long ago, so much has changed and influenced us since that point that it is inevitably going to change or evolve. Sometimes like you said Ben you need to accept that change and move on, and other times the core concepts and ideas that didn’t work for your story might come back and work for another story or idea.

    1. I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one going through this. We definitely do change. Even day to day, what we write is going to be what we have been living.
      That’s a good point Justin. I’m excited to read your next story on Adventure Worlds. It’ll give me a glimpse into what’s been going on in your life.

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