Blog 0004 – When to Start, When to Finish

I don’t blog often.

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It started after I read Gone With The Wind at ten years old. The start of my Writer Self, that is. I read the paperback in two days and when I finished, I knew that within my lifetime, I wanted to write something beautiful.

Beautiful.

Fourteen years later, I still focus on that single concept when I need to ground myself.

Beautiful.

There are not many concepts as subjective as beautiful.

Over the course of child, teen, ya years, I was heavily influenced by the social surroundings around me. I, also, was naive and didn’t know much. I don’t know much, still, either… but I know a little more than I did back then.

But, I wrote. Like many others, I wrote to cope. I wrote to create, and sometimes, I wrote to escape the dull circumstances that come with being a modern human.

Ever since then, I’ve had a perchance for novel-length works. Short Stories and Flash Fictions are excellent for practice in speed of abilities, recall, and exercising that Concise muscle. Novellas and Novels can be presented in a lot of different formats and styles, and the extra length lends to either complex development or constant exposition for the reader (sometimes, both).

By complex development, I mean that the author explores characters, worlds, concepts, combinations of elements and through this exploration (along the course of the story) focuses in to one specific concept/character/ etc. As you might foresee, this focusing comes to a precise point at the technical climax of the story, then expands outwards again on the slope down to the end.

And by constant exposition for the reader, I mean that the author presents characters, worlds, concepts, combination of elements and along the course of the story, continually presents new information, new settings, new thoughts, new paths. Unlike focusing, instead, this style scans over the landscape of the story like an aerial camera.

There might be combinations of these two, as well, with the aerial camera zooming in briefly on particular characters, or concepts, then coming back to the scrolling exposition. Of course, there are a lot of great fiction examples of combinations of these styles including Anne Rice’s series, Game of Thrones, Terry Pratchett, etc.

So, as you might notice, only one of these styles has a definite end possible – the other, constant exposition, creates a world that keeps moving, a living story, a realm to be observed by the one who created it.

But, of course, the prior can exist within the latter. I like to call pieces that are purely development of characters; portraits.

Anyways, no matter the style or length of a work, something I contemplate is When to Start a piece and When to Finish a piece.

Typically, I start any piece that I feel passion for… sometimes, not always. There have been moments where I think of a concept or imagine a story, and consider writing it, but I don’t – this denial results in a blossoming of ideas usually (not 100%), but my imagination – as if stubbornly refusing to be stopped – crashes against my mind. If I wait longer than a week, the idea usually dissipates or is replaced by another… or I write some of it down, take some notes.

I consider Starting a Piece when I sit down at the computer and type in the Title, Any Notes, then begin with the first chapter I can think of. It’s not a perfect system and I’m working on it. I used to create lengths of paragraphs on sketch notebooks, then after I had around fifty pages, I’d type it out together.

Now, the trouble comes at When to Finish, as plenty of people already know.

I have finished works. I have unfinished works. I am finishing works. It is a constant process, inevitable unfolding, disrobing…

The majority of the writings I have finished, I do not like – approve of – or wish to share, anymore. There was a time I did, that time is no longer. Now, I wish to toil away, meditate, fill myself with creations that are nearly endless – until they aren’t – and then they’re finished.

The phrase, They’ll be finished when they’re done., comes to mind.

So, when to finish is either based on when they’re done… or a deadline comes around. I tend to distinguish works that are done in draft from works that are polished to a sheen, also by level of submission.

The most recent Short Story I completed was based upon a deadline. Since then, it’s undergone many edits though and a couple submissions (waiting on one right now). I hope eventually it will find a home. Lately, I’ve been writing more in that Universe and Storylines, so mmhm.

In conclusion,

When to Start = When you feel like it.

When to finish = When it’s done / / or you’ve got a deadline.

Simple. Besides, even though we can write a book in a month, I still believe it’s proper to dedicate three years or more on an original universe book. Previously established universe books are different (for example, Pratchett’s genius with Discworld), those books could take a lot less time.

– Dominika (June 20)

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