cracking an old acorn

A Coign of Vantage, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

I always found that old acorn, “Write what you know” to be not altogether helpful. I think it speaks to the emotional experiences we all have in life–and makes a good point. Fiction is all about emotion. It’s the thing that captures readers and keeps them under the story’s spell. But to write fiction is to stretch, plumb, romp through the field of one’s imagination, and that means, as television writer Lisa Klink says in this post,  write what you don’t know. I find her refreshing take on the old acorn enlightening.

I write fantasy, a great big umbrella for me that shelters my desire to write science fiction too, and I’m interested in a plethora of subjects that could inform and inspire my writing. I know nothing, and I’m attracted to whatever captures my imagination.

Lisa says, The whole point of fiction is to stretch your imagination into characters and situations you don’t know.  The trick is finding the relatable emotion within even the most extraordinary circumstances. 

Ah yes, and that brings me to the maze of thinking I wander through as I write A Lamentation of Swans. What I’ve written so far is by no means set in stone. The story is in a constant state of flux, as it should be if I am to get the compelling tale I’m aiming for. I don’t mean the kind of change that is a whole hog morphing of the basic story to something unrecognizable–ALoS remains true to its origin; its ideational heartbeat is steady. But I have a ton of story material, many ideas contained within, many threads waving about–all of which have to take form and be of pleasing shape.

So I’m open to varying approaches, and where to begin tops the list. Right now I begin with Gaius and Annasara. Seems only right since Gaius is the main character, but the story demands more than his viewpoint so certain other characters have an important role too. After much mind-changing and dithering, I restored the Prologue to the current draft–it’s only one page long and contains a single important event that sets the story in motion.

I’m looking at the story from the different angles present, other perspectives, and I’m wondering if I should begin at a certain other point before closing in on Gaius. I wouldn’t be starting over, simply adding other chapters that ought to come before Gaius. Oh dear. I’m treading perilously close to rewriting what has not been written.

It’s a beautiful day today, warm and sunny, contrary to yesterday’s weather forecast. (Hah! They don’t know Mother Nature as well as they think they do.) I couldn’t sleep last night and took two sleeping pills to bring on the comforting dream-dark. Now this morning I’m on my second cup of coffee and so lethargic I can hardly appreciate the beauty of the day. I’m going to stay in and work on ALoS. Right now my thoughts are scattered, but the story beckons.

3 thoughts on “cracking an old acorn

  1. I agree. Writing what you know means those issues within your imaginative and moral compass, the ideals you believe in, the themes you hold dear, and maybe the language and people you know, but you can take what you physically know and change it, just like Tolkien did. Great post.

  2. I think there’s a certain amount of truth in that statement however, I don’t know what it’s like to kill someone and I’ve had to do a bit of that in my novel LOL. (considering I’m a non-violent person I have to admit that once I got into it I found it rather enjoyable!)

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