monthly blog post of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
This month’s question:
Have I ever been conflicted about writing a story?
There is such a thing as the impostor syndrome. And it can make any writer doubt their own skills.
When I started to write for real – as in with the clear intent to publish my books, not just stacking the stories to my drawer, I was riddled with self-doubt. Hasn’t all this been written before already? What if I am inventing story lines that come from my memory – of books I have read in the past? Was this scene written before by someone? I used to be a voracious reader (until time limitations made me a voracious writer and reading a lot less than I used to. I had to begin stealing every free minute to write, as I have a day job), and I didn’t want to write something another had written before.
Then I bumped into the concept of seven story lines – or rather, nine; that there were really only seven old basic plots in literature, and two more modern ones, and variations of these. So if a story line seemed familiar to me, it wasn’t about repeating someone else’s story. The familiarity was caused by the fact that the story telling tradition of human kind repeated these basic plots. The first seven are traditional plot lines and the last two the modern ones.
And the basic pattern of these seven basic plots is the following:
It starts with anticipation – the setting is established and the protagonist is introduced. S/he is not perfect but somehow unfulfilled. Then follows the stage where the hero starts the journey towards what s/he thinks will resolve the problems. Then the hero meets with limitations and opposing forces to the goal, and becomes frustrated. This is followed by the darkest hour before sunrise - a final ordeal. The hero either achieves the goal s/he set out to achieve, or in case of tragedy, is destroyed. (I’m not much of a fan of the tragedy stories. Enough tragedy in today’s world as it is…)
This was a relief to me as a writer. I could just let the story flow, and let any of these story lines come through, no need to feel conflicted about writing. After all - if these were archetypal plots, they had to be that for the very simple reason that people enjoyed listening to and reading them.
As to scenes in a story… Sometimes the fantasy world can be violent. And there are violent scenes in my stories as well, but I do not like writing too explicit descriptions of acts of violence. Probably because I have never liked horror movies or books. I have never watched Halloween for example. I have read a few books by Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz but decided it is not the genre I enjoy.
If you wish to read more blog posts by IWSG authors, you'll find them here.
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