Friday, January 25, 2008

Writing is Like Being That Ginormous Life Making Machine Doohickey in the 5th Element

Lately my fiction writing has come to a grinding standstill. Sprawling satirical space operas that attempt to say something about the drug industry (both legal and none) is apparently kind of tricky.

I've taken refuge in reading books (Story by Robert McKee and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass) about fiction and story. These deal with down to the bones ideas on craft and artistry and how best to go about constructing your work. There is a lot to learn, and so much I don't know. But the beginning writer, such as my self, is always in conflict with two urges: one, to write it, get it down, work as fast as you can and maybe the dreaded Writer's Block won't catch you; and two, dear lord PAY attention to fundamental principles of story design and structure!

It's not unlike being that Ginormous Life Making Machine Doohickey in the 5th Element. You know the machine that rebuilds Milla WhatsherfacesomethingthatsoundsRussian? There it is, furiously working, trying to make a living organism from a single cell that happened to survived inside a glove, creating the bones and nervous systems, muscles and what not. And then they flash the end product with UV light, skin is made, and Boom! Milla is once again an action hero who is outweighed by her weapons by a ratio of 4 to 1.

Writing is exactly like that, for me, at least. Except for the end product, replace a European model with a three legged, profanity spewing orange hippopotamus with a partially working digestive track attached to its tail. I look at it and think, "Something just iiisn't right here." Just a nagging suspicion, I'm sure.

There are fundamental, down to the bones error in some of my pieces (I've thus far finished 2 novels (one through it's 3rd draft, one 1st draft), and like, 80% of this space opera (nothing published)). But I feel like I'm too close to the works, and not entirely sure what I'm looking for. Part of me thinks, "Well hell, it's living and breathing, technically, it's an organism.", and the other, rational, less forgiving part of me things "Oh dear god what have you done!?" I avert my eyes. I can feel that an abomination against the universal laws of Story have been committed. Something, or many somethings, just isn't quite working.

It's troubling. To say the least.


Anonymous said...

Best piece of writing advice I ever heard was 'Don't suck that end of the pen, I've been cleaning my ears with it."

Second best was 'Don't get it right, get it written.'

Gary James

Niteowl said...

Gary! You make my day (in the none Eastwood sense) commenting on my sorry, sorry blog.

I'll endeavour to apply both golden pieces of advice in equal measure. It'll at the very least, lessen the waxy aftertaste I've had in my mouth for weeks.

Monkfish said...

Wow, cool video.

Niteowl said...

Ouch monky, just, ouch.

Monkfish said...

I'm pretty sure ear wax is the least of your worries. I've seen what you do with your pen.