Saturday, August 18, 2012

Avoid the Corners


I'd like to say thank you to Scott Seldon for guesting on my page today! Scott's been here before and I welcome him back! Without further ado...

Avoid the Corners

As a writer of a series, I like to look at others mistakes to see what I can learn. Even the greatest of writers can write themselves into a corner and not be able to see the way out. I very much want to avoid doing that to myself, so I look and learn.

Author Scott Seldon
There are times of year that I can really get into the groove and times that nothing seems to happen. August has always been a dead month (partly do to my non-writerly job that pays the bills) so this year I decided to make the most of it. I haven’t even opened my current project to even try and write. Instead I have been reading in an attempt to get my creative energies flowing so when August is over I can resume writing. The object of my reading is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. And yes, I know it is more than a trilogy, but it is that trilogy as a complete unit before Asimov added to it in the 80’s, that I wanted to read. However it is the series as a whole I’ll be addressing.

Asimov had a wonderful concept. One problem, it was setup so that his protagonists always won. That only carried him so far. Then he introduced a foil, The Mule. But again, that only carried him so far. He pitted the Mule against the Second Foundation and then the two foundations against each other. Basically he kept writing himself into a corner and struggled to find a way out. In the end, he did it one more time when he introduced Gaia and their plan for Galaxia. He never did figure out how to get out of that one.

We have a saying at work, “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” That is so applicable to writing. When you find yourself writing into a corner, you really need to find a way out that doesn’t lead to a bigger corner. If a great writer like Asimov can do it, what is to stop any of us from finding ourselves in that place. I think I found the answer.

To avoid the corners you have to be looking at the bigger picture. You need to know where you are going to steer clear of the corners that will stop you cold. Asimov, for all his planning of each story, didn’t start out the Foundation stories planning to write the entire story. It was an idea for a single story that led to sequels. I don’t think he ever envisioned what it became. That is the secret, to envision the broader picture. Even if you never plan on doing it, having that broader picture in mind is a must.

Yes, you may be writing a short story or a stand alone novel, but what if you want more? Take a few minutes, think of the big picture and ways to continue the story. You many never use them, but thinking of them up front will keep you out of the corner and keep your story moving if you chose to continue it.


Scott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website (sites.google.com/site/scottrseldon/)  for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold. Watch for his upcoming novel, Pirates of I’ab, at your favorite ebook retailer.

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