Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


Premature Speculation

January 8, 2008 by Richard Wright in Journal, Writing

This journal, as you have no doubt identified, wanders all over the place, and I hope you don’t mind. One thing that it’s always tempting to do here, to bring things back to writing, is discuss projects I’m currently working on. Thankfully, it’s never so tempting as to break my long established resolve never again to do so.

Discussing a piece of writing at the point of creation is, for me, like taking a nail gun to the story’s head. Better yet, it’s like snapping a chicken’s neck. While the story might run around for a little while after, bumping into obstacles and generally making a nuisance of itself, it died in that moment. Eventually it will lie down, a once fantastic notion slaughtered by idle chatter.

The reason for this is that the only way to tell the story to it’s full advantage is to write the story. The story’s natural length is the natural length of the story – the best combination of words to communicate the plot, the characters, the subtext and themes, and so forth. Using less words, in an enthusiastically written journal summary for example, lessens the tale in the eyes of both reader and the writer. It doesn’t sound as good as it should be, and that rush of excitement generated when the idea popped into my head starts to fade. With it goes the motivation to finish. Stories should not be summarised until they are complete, else completion may never happen. At the moment, for example, I’m working up a fabulous idea inspired by some anthology guidelines I was sent the other day. The idea is shiny, and keen to get onto the page. Telling you about it now would cheapen it. I would see my hasty summary, and conclude “is that it?” I might walk away at that very moment.

So I’ll keep schtumm just now, thank you very much.

In unrelated news, last night I gave a fabulous demonstration of why antibiotics and alcohol do not mix. Really. It’s not just hyperbole on the part of the spoilsport medical profession. Trust me on this.

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  1. Dan LaurikietisJanuary 9, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    You’re absolutely right. Far too many times have I completely knocked the wind out of my own sales by attempting to pimp whatever creative enterprise I may be working on. It’s Kryptonite for the creative process and I’d never have fathomed why this is the case had you not articulated it so well.

  2. Richard WrightJanuary 9, 2008 at 8:34 pmAuthor

    It’s a lesson it took a long time for me to learn – even though better writers than me had warned me. The same applies to chatting about said stories before they’re finished, of course.

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