27 August 2010

Where's Your Focus?

After writing that post about finding my focus on Wednesday, I was poking around through my saved drafts and saw the title of this post. I dragged it out, and decided I should post it today and pretend it was all a part of the Great Plan, talking about focus twice in a row.

*ahem* Yes. I planned it. Hear me? You never heard me admit otherwise, m'kay? Good.

When I first reread Marked (previously Hunter Hunted) after writing it back in January, I realised something. This is what I said in my notes to myself for this post:

"I realised I don't want to write it [Marked] for the cool religion, 'cause I don't know anything about that. I want to write it for the character's journey. Likewise, what interests me with Jesscapades is not the tech and spyness, but the mystery of the glasses".

I stalled out writing Marked for a while, and I worked myself into impossible, implausible holes in Jesscapades. Why? Because I wasn't writing the story I thought I was writing.

With Marked, I thought I was writing a story about a cool tiger religion, where humans are sacred and violence against them is forbidden. With Jess, I thought I was writing a cool spy/assassin story with lots of tech and gadgets.

I was wrong, on both counts.

Marked is a story about a young tiger's battle with his religion; about someone learning to trust that they can't see all the eventual outcomes of their actions and that laws exist for a reason; and most of all, it's about someone realising that no one is ever to low to be loved, or too far gone to be redeemed. Even if you do happen to start a full-scale inter-species war. O:)

Jesscapades is a story about one girl's attempt to save her sister from herself; it's about learning that you have to let people make their own mistakes; it's about the mystery of magic and the workings of Fate.

Marked still has the cool tiger religion. Jess still has the gadgets. But neither of these is the driving force behind the story, and as I was writing I realised I didn't want it to be. It wasn't what I was interested in; it wasn't where my focus was. Both times, I stalled because I was trying to force the story to be what I thought it should be, not what I really and truly wanted it to be.

Knowing your focus before you writing - knowing why you want to write this story, what the point of it is for you - is just as important as figuring out what your focus is after you write, when you're editing.

I guess it's kind of like life, in a way: Is your focus what you think your life ought to be, what others think it ought to be, or is it what you want it to be, in your heart of hearts? Do you know what you want it to be? How do you know you've got there if you don't know where 'there' is?

And I guess that's like writing: How do you know what you think until you see what you say, after all? The joy, in the end, is in discovering.


Elena Solodow said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I used to focus more on action. My second novel (forever in my desk drawer) had great characters, but because I was so focused on making the story "a certain way", the story just never measured up to what the characters really needed.

They wanted a story worthy of them, and it wasn't until I scrapped that book's plot and let them tell me what they wanted to do that I really hit on a book that was worth writing.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

This is so, so important, and a great post, Inky. I think this has been my largest problem of all with Monarch.

Amy Laurens said...

Elena - Congrats on figuring out in the end what needed to be done, though. Tearing huge chunks out of a story like that and really gutting it takes courage. *cookies*

Glam - Yeah, I can see how that's a problem in the early drafts of Monarch that I read. Jess is really truly awful, though :D hehe.

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