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Writing in Concept

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  • Writing in Concept

    This is a question for all the many writers out there, and perhaps Mr.Moorcock if he can find the time to respond in the future.

    Have you ever come up with a concept, and idea or seed of a wonderful writing experience? Not "world-building," mind you, but just a singularly interesting and great concept. And has it ever been kind of large, and strange?

    I have a dilemma of writing in a concept I have developed, but it seems, well, too big. How do the other writers here wrap their minds around a concpet you have that may be too ambitious, too large, or more complex than you had previously thought? Everytime I try to approach the concept to write in it, I am dumbfounded by the considerations involved because it seems strangely larger than I had initially anticipated.

    Do you just say, "the Hell with it!" and go for it, writing like crazy? Or should I approach it more carefully, and approach it from a facet at a time? How do I introduce it to the audience, and make them care?

    Sorry for the long and over complex question. I just hope someone can help.

  • #2
    Maybe you should get your feet wet with a short story that takes aspects of this concept into account without spelling the whole thing out. That might help you build momentum to deal with the much larger idea later without forcing you to take it all on at once. A lot of writing teachers say to always start with a murder mystery, whatever the setting, but I don't totally get behind that. It can work, but there are probably other routes, and whatever you choose, you don't want to force it.
    My Facebook; My Band; My Radio Show; My Flickr Page; Science Fiction Message Board

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    • #3
      Story...

      I think however huge and grand the story,it's the small things that will make the great universe seem to live without exactly having to detail every aspect of it.
      It's the characters that can help most there.
      They can voice the distances and the strange,other characters at other times and other places within the story can cross reference to those places,giving a kind of three dimensional feel to the universe you are creating.
      I have this habbit of trying to solidify everything I have ever written,music,poems,short stories,into this one big universe I have created.
      For me it's working.
      I try to remember the small things in relation to the big things.
      A man goes on a five month space journey....so what.
      A man goes ona five monthes space journey,and is sitting alone in his cabin listening to his musical pocket watch his grandfather gave him.
      It adds (I hope) a personal atmosphere to the journey.
      I realise this might seem like rubbish,but it's how I see it.
      I would say,go build your universe,and remember who lives there,who lives across the street,what do they look like,what's the local pub called.
      What about the music and the polotics,the art and the crime.
      Sorry to have rambled.
      All the best for your story,I am sure it will turn out a living breathing universe,rich and real.
      Terentek.
      :)

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      • #4
        I have to agree with Dead-Air. I used to sit around composing all sorts of crazy worlds and races to fill them with, but had so much fun doing that I never really wrote anything approaching a story. I just have pages of descriptions of buildings and ships and so forth. The same goes for concepts, or themes... you can pick them out of the air all day, but at the end of the day the defintion of a writer is someone who writes, so you have to get something down on the page that resembles a story, or you'll be going round in circles forever. Nowadays I'm more of a sitcom writer than anything else, and I was recently advised that the first thing you should come up with for a comedy is the characters, not the situation. The conflict and the comedy should come first and foremost from the characters. Obviously you weren't asking about sitcoms, but I think the basic principal is the same for dramatic stories too. To really hook the reader/viewer, you have to have people they can care about and believe in, and once you've hooked your audience with personalities you can draw them into the wider world. In my humble opinion. And I agree with Terentek, that it's important to remember the personal details that flesh out your characters, and the worlds they inhabit... shoes that squeak, photos of old lovers hidden under the bed, mismatched curtains... anything that makes it seem a little less "box fresh" and sterile. No matter how clever and unique your concept is, if readers/viewers can't find a hook in the little things, then they probably won't stick around for the bigger things.

        One thing we were told to do during my writing degree was to write through writer's block. Just keep typing away with "filler" dialogue until you get back on course (you can always redraft the filler when you know where you're going). I know you're not saying you have writer's block, but I think it's useful to just sit down and write something, even if you don't know exactly where it's going, because a character might pop up who can show you where it's going. As we wannabe Taoists are duty-bound to say: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

        Um... that probably wasn't any help at all. Good luck with it. :D
        "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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        • #5
          Would you remain open to the possibility that the work might run away with you and prove a different point entirely? I think that the best fiction has a life of its own and transcends any didactic intentions the author might have had. Which is why I tend to shy away from the reductionist "what does it mean?" question.
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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          • #6
            Evolution

            I think it's best to always remain open to change within the pre-defined goals of the story.
            Many times I have been taken off ina new direction by the inclusion a small piece of detail.
            Sometimes the smallest reference,can open up a whole new layer within the story,and again this can add to the world's depth.
            Like in real life,some event happens,any the daily business of our clock precision lives gets a kick in the mainspring.
            Just like your car breaking down on the way to work.
            Stories could have/should have such elements within them.
            It's the real side of life.
            How many star crusisers have yu read about that broke down and left the entire cast dumped for monthes,awaiting a rescue,and I don't mean that as the frame for the story,just as an event that unfolded,and brought a temporary halt to the stories unfolding,just think of the possible fleshing out of the charcters in that situation.
            6 monthes dumped,might only be two pages worth,but a flat tire is 15 mins,but it's so real.
            Can't remember who said the words,but it was something like:Life is what happens to you while your making plans".
            Not a bad way of approaching your writings.
            Let it evolve,see where it takes you,if it doesn't work out,not much is lost.
            As writers,we just zoom our charcters back to a point and pick it up again,no one any the wiser,but that dead end might prove invaluable to your charcters development.
            Works for me,sometimes :roll:
            Terentek.

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            • #7
              Re: Evolution

              Originally posted by Terentek
              Can't remember who said the words,but it was something like:Life is what happens to you while your making [other] plans".
              It was John Lennon - but maybe he wasn't the first....

              In my few attempts at writing I've been quite surprised where it's taken me.
              \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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              • #8
                Thanks Mikey C..
                I have a dreadful memory for quotes :roll:
                My biggest piece has taken me way beyond what I could have ever imagined.
                The weirdest thing about it,is the spin offs....
                It's lead into poetry,a short story,a whole heap of pictures,the biggest measuring about 10ft by 2ft,which took sveral monthes to complete using a minute pen.
                But eh biggest spin off is the music.
                I had no idea when I started writing,that many of the things I wrote about,years later I would setting to music.
                Then of course,I feed back all of those spins offs,back into the main story by asigning their existance to fictional poets,authors and musicians.
                So then you have a mutimedia world.
                The only thing I don't really know,is where it's going to end,perhaps in the truest sense of my universe,it doesn't end.
                Less of a story perhaps,than a universe to go off and explore.
                Nigel.

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                • #9
                  It's driving me mad that I can't remember which song it is!

                  I think there's too approaches to writing - start with something very small and build it up (like adding clay to an armature in sculpture) - or start with something huge and cut it away (like chipping away at a rock or a piece of wood). Sounds like you could do the latter. As the thing grows, you'll probably start to see a grain and a pattern you can cut it down to. And it will benefit from the fact that people will sense that all the stuff you've left out is actually there. I think this was the secret of Tolkien's success; the Silmarillion was there all along (and more). Alternatively, you might be able to achieve what Mr Moorcock has done and create a reality which is able to keep growing and spiralling out in infinite directions.

                  It's only just occurred to me that if their creative processes work in this way, Moorcock and Tolkien are manifestations of Chaos and Law!
                  \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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                  • #10
                    Very True

                    Hi Mikey C...
                    You comparrisons to clay and sculpting are spot on.
                    It started with clay and is going to end,if ever,chiseling down.
                    I must admit I have two ways to go with it at present....
                    I could either allow the universe to grow,time permitting.
                    Or consolidate within it's present borders.
                    I have the intention to write only the one book.
                    How do you walk away from the one book though and say job done?
                    As for chaos and law...
                    Within opur writings,perhaps we all are chaos lords and lawbringers,as and when needed.
                    :)
                    Terentek.

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