For the past six weeks, I have been focusing on my Summer Writing Project, which is to complete and submit as many of my short stories already in progress (WiP). Because of this, I have not spent much time on new work and I have been itching to get new stories down.
I’m currently finalizing “Canal Ward”, a zombie story exploring how polite Canadians are in dealing with everything–and anything–live or dead. As there are still a few weeks until the submission deadline, I spent time this week thinking about some story ideas that have been cogitating for a while now, but that had not quite yet come together as a united idea. Just focusing on them seems to have made them more coherent. It has also uncapped a geyser of details about setting, character traits, dialogue, and everything else that I need to get down before I forget.
I cracked open one of my shiny new notebooks and began jotting down notes on what I have dubbed the “Maze Project”, completely unstructured and pell-mell. (One of the brainstorm sessions occurred while I was in the eye doctor’s waiting room after getting pupil-dilating drops, and I literally had my eyes closed as I was scrawling into the notebook.) I have already filled quite a few pages and there is no sign that it’s going to slow down anytime soon. Structure is already coming out of this disorderly brainstorm, chief among them are clear scenes, perhaps even chapters, as this work appears to want to be a novel rather than a short story.
It’s doubtful that I will type all the notes I have written longhand. I suspect this is more of a pre-draft process and, when I’m ready, I will just sit down at the computer and begin writing the story from Chapter One, referring to the notebook only after the first draft is done.
By writing it down, I think it has freed my brain to dig deeper rather than remain stuck on the general idea. It’s quite interesting as I feel the story’s development is tangible, the words spilled on the pages are expanding the idea further, like branches and leaves growing on a tree at an accelerated rate.
That’s how all stories come to be, I suppose, but writing it by hand rather than typing it has somehow made it a much more visual process.
One thing that isn’t yet clear is the story’s conclusion (the protagonist will survive, but at what price?), and I can’t wait to find out what comes out at the end of the Maze.