Currently reading: The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
Reading next: The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
Writers' Bureau course progress: Assignment 2 in progress
My current writing project is a fantasy novel by the name of Kin. I have more than likely mentioned it before. Despite the changes to my routine and the increased focus on my writing course progress on Kin has not slowed, nor has the project been shelved like so many before it. I give the story a lot of thought daily and it occurred to me recently just how much a story evolves during the creation process.
Kin was a story conceived with a single purpose: a simple story, vastly different from what I had written before, to be used as a template for 2011's NaNoWriMo event. 50,000 words in a month. It was only three weeks prior to the start of the event that I decided to participate and had only that short time to create a basic template. The idea was, as ever, to encourage myself to simply write without worrying too much for the quality while trying to allow more spontaneous creativity.
It worked. To a certain extent. By the end of November 2011 I had 50,000 words of a novel called Kin and a certificate to say I had done it. Amazing; I set out to do something related to writing and actually succeeded. So what happened? How come it's February 2013 and Kin has still not seen the light of day? Well, to be perfectly honest the entire first draft was a pile of garbage.
When I reveal this statement to people I often get tuts and rolling eyes; they believe me to have been too critical, as is my usual way. But I defy anyone to compare a synopsis of both the original version and the current version and not find the original vastly inferior, simply based on its core concepts. The fact of the matter is that things change, your mind changes, your preferences change and soon something that seemed like a great idea is rendered pale and empty.
Kin started off in life as a fantasy about a boy/man who has a talking fox companion. That was literally my only brief when I started. As I spent more time with the story in my mind I began to flesh out the world and the characters within it. The boy, Perin, was a frustrated bundle of impulsion and energy who needed to form a bond with an arrogant and selfish fox. It was a recipe for many hijinks and amusing conflicts, but sadly they never happened. Looking back at the original idea I can scarcely believe I allowed myself to go ahead and write any words for it! Perin barely left the village, never saw any of the world and had one, arguably, small conflict towards the end which served as the climax and overall resolution. Lame.
Today Kin is about a girl named Jade. She comes from our world now. She lives a dreary loveless existence in a boarding school in the middle of London. She has no real parents, a strange magical amulet and a fox which appears to be stalking her. Her life is unbearably dull until an unexpected train ride takes her to another world that she believes is truly where she belongs. Now Jade must travel the strange, hostile new land in order to gain her very own kin and earn her place amongst the people.
Sounds much more interesting, doesn't it?
So I began to wonder; is there some kind of magical threshold? Could there be a point within a storyline's development where it literally becomes exactly what it needs to be and no more or less? Could the story be given too little consideration and come out shallow and heartless? Conversely, could too much thought endanger the project? New ideas come to me daily and each one feels like a brilliant new idea that only serves to enhance what I already have. I honestly feel like the story is currently growing in size, complexity and quality. But just when is more a little too much?
This is Frisk,
I would like to add that whereas my experience with NaNoWriMo was not completely successful the event itself is a wonderful tool for encouraging writing and creativity. My first draft may have been unusable but that was entirely my fault. Even from within the dross there were a few small nuggets of goodness which actually sparked more ideas that I would come to implement later on. I don't regret using NaNoWriMo for a single moment and would recommend it to anyone who struggles with putting words on paper.