Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How A Story Reveals Itself

“It would be nice, I suppose, to begin at the perfect point in the story, in the perfect way, using the perfect voice to present exactly the desired scene. Unfortunately, you have no choice but to be wholly clueless about all of this. The rightness of things is generally revealed in retrospect, and you’re unlikely to know in advance what is right and wrong in a story that has not yet been written.” -- Stephen Koch in The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop.
I read a post recently from an novice author who was stuck in his story. He knew where he wanted to begin and how he wanted the story to end, but couldn’t figure out how to get from point A to point B. He hadn’t written anything yet, other than an outline. He wanted to have the entire story in his mind before he began. Might this be a form of writer’s block? I suggested he start writing and let his characters show him the path from the beginning to the end. Of course, if his characters treated him like mine did me, what he thought was the beginning and ending of his tale might turn out to be wrong.

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