On not-plotting

I have begun a new piece of short fiction that’s an exaggeration of what I taught recently: don’t overplot, sketch out your story loosely, invent. In my notes for this story, of which there are only five small points and one name, I wrote “needs to take surprising turns, write blindly”.  It takes a while to get to this point in story writing, though. It takes a while to trust your voice, your creative process. I have only the vaguest of ideas where this story is headed, but I’m excited to write it.  Were I to plot it, develop every nuance of the characters, I would not write it. In my mind, I guess, creation is superior to construction. Were I to build a house it would be a meandering maze of surprising spaces. This is why I love such oddball works as The Journal of Albion Moonlight, Maldoror, Tristram Shandy.

If this new story works out, it’ll be – I swear- the final piece in my collection. It might not work out, but that’s part of the risk and I’d rather, as Melville says, fail in originality than succeed in imitation.


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