Behind the Writing

Blog No. 78

We’ve made a few changes over at Adventure Worlds. There will probably be many more things to adjust in the future, but for now we’ve gotten rid of our Behind the Writing section and added a News section instead. We hope to have more news worthy posts soon. It is definitely a section that will grow if Adventure Worlds and its writers continue on the path we are on now. There are a lot of exciting things that we hope to share with our readers in the next little while, but we can’t leak the information just yet. A News tab is a perfect addition to the site for that reason alone. Unfortunately, we can’t have a bunch of tabs littering the top of the page, so we had to look into trimming it down, and Behind the Writing was the easiest choice.

We haven’t had one since January, Christian doesn’t like doing them and they are our lowest read posts overall. I like them though. It reminds me of the little tidbits I would excitedly read at the end of some short story collections (usually the PKD ones). They would have a quote from an interview or the editor who first published the piece that would inform where the idea came from, or explain that a character was based on someone specific and such. So, we’ve decided to no longer do Behind the Writing posts on Adventure Worlds. Instead we’ll let the writers decide to do them on their own blogs – like this one. So here is my Behind the Writing for my last completed story: The Star that was the Sun.

***May Contain Spoilers***

(Go read The Star that was the Sun if you haven’t yet).

The last story I posted was for them and Not (which has a title I regret). It took me most of last year to write and it was a huge learning experience for me. I was very excited to finish it last year and start a new story in January. The Star that was Sun (a title I do like) is a much more solid story, mostly because it stands on the shoulder of its predecessors and partly because it was finished when I started to post it. I was able to go back and make changes when I edited and typed it out. I’m still not completely happy with the story, but I think that is always going to be the case. I’m now several stories beyond where I was when I wrote The Star and while I like each one differently, they are all written by someone who is much more experienced (as I learn something new with each story I write).

I’m trying to push myself, but I don’t think it’s obvious in The Star. The major element I strove for this time was to write very different characters (consistently) and to work on my descriptions. I don’t naturally write descriptively – I tend to focus on the plot. I like it when my stories move. There can always be a balance though, and that’s what I tried to do this time around. (I feel strange saying this time having written it in December, but it is the most current, completely finished story I have).

The Star is a story based on an old idea. It was the first time I delved into my long list of ideas and really tried to give it a shot. A lot changed from the original old idea (I must have had over ten years ago) but the basic story is the same. Paul was a soldier the first time around, but once I set the scene I found he would be much more interesting as a regular guy. It’s very tempting to make your characters hero-wish-fulfillment, but I find those characters too one dimensional. Paul is a bit of a sheep, but he is stronger than he thinks and he gives a shit. That’s who inspired me this time. I always had it a desolate world and he was going to be taking a girl across a desert, but the necessity of having simply leaving the shelter being dangerous led me to freeze the world. The end being the president is rather generic and I left it that way because the relationship with Paul and the girl mattered more to me at the end. Kate was going to with him to the airfield, in the original idea, and there was going to be a big action scene where Paul doesn’t get in the way. She decided to let him go alone, and I thought it was best to let Kate do what she pleased.

Kate was a surprise and a delight to write. She led Paul around on a leash, but he needed it (and I think he liked it too). He was a very passive character and her personality came out of that. I needed her to come in and shake things up, get Paul moving, and give the reader a few things to think about. I’m not sure where the initial idea for the story came from since it’s from so far in my past. It’s one I’ve held onto though and it was a little nerve-racking to tackle. The ideas I come up with now are so raw and unfinished that to change them as I write is easy and expected. The older ideas have weight. I’ve thought about them for so long and they mean something to me (mostly that I was really lazy back then). I felt like I was betraying the idea when I made changes to it, but they were necessary (as part of writing and to make the story better). I’m happy with the final product, but I still have element from the first incarnation floating around in my head. Maybe they will fit elsewhere or just disappear.

I think that’s going to be the end of this behind the writing. It’s not as long as the last one, but my story isn’t as long as the last one either. If you have any questions, please ask away. I love talking about stories, especially the ones I write.

3 thoughts on “Behind the Writing

  1. Christian Laforet

    Ben, it’s amazing to see how you improve leaps and bounds with each story you write. The things you did right in For Them and Not (FTAN), you kept for The Star, and the areas that needed work in FTAN, you improved upon immensely in this story. It’s that ability to see where your writing needs to be refined, and then move forward with actually making the change that has brought your work to the next level.
    By the way, I’m glad you’re still going to do these behind the writing posts. Even though I don’t like writing them, I’m always fascinated in reading them.

  2. Thanks Christian. I work extra hard to improve my writing every tine I sit down to do it. It’s tedious and I’m not always successful, but it’s nice to have the effort noticed. It’s been a real team effort so far this year and I’m glad we keep pushing each other, I can see why you wouldn’t necessarily want to do the behind the writings though. I’m just a bit more egotistical I guess.

  3. Pingback: Anything and Everything – Ben Van Dongen

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