One of the great things about writing fiction is the total control. One of the horrible things about writing fiction is the total control. Odd, isn’t it?
Being a control freak, I love that I get to make the rules, the people, and the outcomes. I control the vertical. I control the horizontal.
The downside is when I don’t know what comes next, I have no one to blame or to ask. Sure, I can ask for opinions, but ultimately, the final decision is mine to make.
Example: I can’t decide if my alien races in Star of Justice are different like humans (same species with different physical characteristics) or different in kind (like cats and dogs) or some sort of in-between (like horses and donkeys – or is it mules?). What difference does it make, you ask? Well, all the difference in the world (pardon the pun) if I want half-breeds. Forget for a moment the grammatical issues of whether or not to capitalize the race names. Can a flamas and a druid have children? They are certainly both able to breed with humans, so should they be able to breed with each other?
I’m not saying they would, but I need to know if it’s possible. It also affects exactly how the races look. If the differences are only skin deep, then all the races would have the same basic physiology, from faun hoofpads to druid extended ankle bones. It doesn’t matter so much in Star of Justice because exposure to alien races is fairly limited. Not the case in book 2. I’m up against a wall and it’s decision-time.
Example two: I’m writing a short story about a knightly challenge and I don’t know how to solve the challenge.
Then why did I think it up, you ask? Because writers are insane: speculative writers more so than most. I can’t help myself. Once again, I can ask opinions but the final choice is mine.
I’ve been reading The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. I think it’s what Kat would call a literary book, which means while reading it I often wonder what the writer was ingesting while writing it. One early passage stood out to me, though.
“When you are writing a book; when you are well into writing it, and know what comes next, and yet cannot go on; when every morning for week or a month you enter its room and turn your back on it; then the trouble is either of two things. Either the structure has forked, so the narrative, or the logic, has developed a hairline fracture that will shortly split up the middle – or you are approaching a fatal mistake. What you had planned will not do. If you pursue your present course, the book will explode or collapse, and you do not know about it yet, quite.”
I’ve felt this. SOJ book 2, the short story… That niggling in the back of the brain warning of impending doom approaching with each keystroke. I can’t see it, but I know it’s there. The first trembles of the worldquake.
Oh well. Since I am insane, I’ll keep tapping and hope my brilliance wins out and I find some fantastical way to solve the unsolvable. Not likely, I agree, but possible. I’ve done it before.
With a little help from the first Worldbuilder, of course.