Constrain, or get brevity

So… does size matter? We were talking among ourselves about writing and how long the longest piece we’ve ever written was. I’m a nonfiction sort, a tech writer by trade, so I’m used to gigantic how-tos and grant proposals, but not grand stories. When I write fiction, it’s the micro-mini super-short one-paragraph tiny type of writing. I would much rather write the introductory paragraph to a totally original piece than write the whole piece myself. Ideally, I’d be writing the last paragraph after someone else wrote the rest, and be summing up the whole thing and tying up all the loose ends, all left-brained-like.

In a way, I’m the consummate hack. I have no problem at all taking someone else’s universe, someone else’s characters, and putting them in a new setting or giving them a new adventure. Heck, I’ll even give them a new friend to pal around with, if that’s what the assignment calls for. But the idea of a whole universe coming at you directly from my brain? Well, that’s not who I am.

I’ve said many a time that I’d be great as a television staff writer. I don’t feel that need to create from scratch, that desire to conjure worlds where there were none before. I’d much rather have parameters, an assignment, a set of rules that cannot be broken, and then blossom within those rules and push them as far as I can take them. To me, the idea of writing a spec script is FAR more exiting than developing a pilot, but if someone wanted me to do a pilot I’d want to know: what’s your target demographic? What’s your ideal genre? How many sets do you want built for this thing? I’m imminently practical when it comes to writing, then once safe within that boundary I can be boundlessly creative. Without the boundary? I feel I flounder, wandering helpless without a map. So I try to keep my purely original stuff as short as possible, so I don’t get too lost.

But give me an assignment, with specifics, and guidelines, and I’m off and running. That’s why I’m so glad in this project we’re doing that I was assigned to Chapter 6. If I had been Chapter 1, we’d still be waiting, and I shudder to think where I’d have taken us.

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