Tag Archives: story

What Does YOUR story mean?


What does YOUR story mean-.jpg

I’ve always struggled — in most of my professional writing career, after the blissful stage where I only wrote for myself — with making my writing and stories mean something. Maybe it was the crap influences in my childhood who told me that ‘just writing fantasy’ was fine and all that, but eventually I needed to write things that actually meant something. It can’t just be that though, because I’ve always felt a drive to write more than just a story.

Maybe all of this is just all my insecurity and doubt coming home to roost.

It’s the plight of most writers to feel this way. I read somewhere that, at the very least, writer’s write to entertain. But most of us write to try to inform, educate, inspire, engage. So I’m hope to God pretty sure that I’m really not alone in all of my what-do-I-mean angst.

I can’t help but think of this in the light of current world events. Well, USA events, but it’s affecting the whole world, so yeah.

Meaning: I want my books to make people think when they’re out there. I want to inspire and engage and teach. Yes, I’ll always write stories, because I’m one of those ‘if I don’t write it out it just plagues me forever’ writers. But I want to go above and beyond that. I want it all to mean something.

I get a little hung up on how exactly to go about doing that. The first example that jumps to mind is the Orson Scott Card route, of exploring deeply philosophical questions about humanity and morality through science fiction. He does a lot of telling-not-showing, and it seems like he had these deeply moral issues in the back of his head as he wrote the story. Whereas I get characters yelling at me and write them so they’ll be quiet.

So I guess what I’m really struggling with is a way to take my innate character-yelling and transform it. The story comes out, sure, but it’s still just a story. What is the step between characters and plot coming together and then… making it more?

It’s probably the opposite of that. That the meaning to be explored should be taken first — and then add the characters and plot. But how do I do that? Seriously – I want someone to give me a flow chart on how to do this, because I feel like I missed something along the way.

I want to write about environmental issues and the reality of how this relates to economics — so I’ve built solarpunk into my world. But is it really teaching someone anything, or exploring how a world like this works? … I’m afraid it’s not enough.

I have strong belonging, friendship, and what it means to be human themes especially in my current series, but I’m not sure it’s so obvious. I get lost in the plot and the interactions of the characters, and sometimes I think that takes away from the fact that I wrote these two people with the idea that they’re lonely and different… and in each other they find not only a place to belong, but start affecting the world around them for the better.

I don’t feel that it’s enough.

(Maybe I’m just not smart enough — or smart in ‘that’ way? I want to interview Card and figure out his method… and when he feels like he’s really got it.)

I think all of this can be put in the category of learning to take a first draft and make it a second draft — something that, with growing horror, I’m realizing that maybe I haven’t ever done before. I’m going through developmental edits with a professional editor for the first time and getting a crash course in things I didn’t even know were a thing (upcoming blog post on that later! It’s a little nerve-wracking and kinda feels like the floor has been taken out from under my feet).

Of course, who really knows — because an artist’s plight is never feeling like something is ever ‘done.’ It can always be better. There can always be more. Despite knowing this, I still feel that I’m missing some sort of intrinsic lesson on how to get from my A to my B. For all I know I’ll get an epiphany tomorrow and suddenly realize how it works, or I’ll read an article that connects it all — or the most likely outcome, my editor will prod me into understanding what to do.

But for now, I’m definitely feeling a little worthless and like I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’d love to move this discussion out to you, dear readers.

Do you worry that your story doesn’t ‘mean’ enough, especially in light of current events? How do you give meaning to your story? Do you start with the world, the characters, the lesson you’re imparting? If you’re a character writer like me, how do you keep yourself from getting carried away in their interactions? How to you keep yourself from being off subject/too preachy?



NaNoWriMo Update: Slow and Steady

After a week of writing on a story I’ve been working on for almost a year, I can already tell this NaNoWriMo is different than the last one.

I’m uncertain if that’s just the nature of a different story, or because I’m writing under pressure for a story that’s so dear to me (what I talked about in my last post). While last year I wrote in great swaths and then took minor breaks, this year I’ve written consistently almost every day in smaller sections. I’ve been really having to push myself to write every day. It’s a strangely novel feeling, deliberately setting aside and creating writing time, versus taking time I have available and writing for as long as I keep steam.

The first few days I struggled, partially due to my mood at the time, and partially due to the difficulty of the scene. But as the week progressed I’ve gained some momentum, and got ahead of the game where I could. Last night I ended up writing several hundred words beyond where I needed to be, but will try to continue that today.

Alright, I must be off to continue on this adventure.

I hope all of you are having fun and doing awesome! And hey, if you feel like it, come be my writing buddy!

The “Writer’s Curse”

I suffer from something a few call “the curse” in writing – otherwise known as the seeming inability to keep oneself from writing. I’m sure you’ve all either heard of it or have dealt with it yourself. The lying awake at night unable to go to sleep with all the pictures in your brain. Being distracted and spaced out during the day as two characters battle it out in your cranium. Constantly feeling the urge to write so you can at least get it out of your head and under some semblance of your control.

It’s a romantic proposition to consider: being called to or possessed by a muse, God, a chemical imbalance in your brain, or what may have you.

The other day I started to wonder about the “curse” part of it. I hadn’t really thought about it much, halfway considering it a facetious way to complain about how it felt like being possessed sometimes. While time consuming, I mean really – the constant desire to express oneself creatively through words. Oh darn, lemme go write another neat story that’s racing around with my neurons.

I’m finding that those who do not “suffer” from this particular strange biochemical weirdness, but who do still write, are often much more purposeful in their writing. Instead of being dragged along as the imagination goes haywire, they seem much more focused on the point of their story. So I’m starting to wonder if the “curse” isn’t the who-knows-why-we-feel-so-compelled problem, but that our writing is not naturally so purposeful – and thus we have a problem not going off in tangents.

I might be completely wrong here. And it’s definitely true that those suffering “the curse” can learn to be more purposeful, and that these overly-simplistic camps I’ve put writers into do not cover the whole story. But it’s fun to think about.

Also, I have a strange inkling that “pantsers” are often more under the subjection of “the curse” while plotters tend to be less so. What do you think about all this?