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Malcolm’s Muse
A Man Question from an Aspiring Writer
“James, I’ve been working on a story for a while. I just can’t get past some of the plotting hurdles—that’s one, and two, trying to write a story that everybody likes, you know, entertaining, but PC. This is so hard I get stalled.”
-Malcolm Patterson
First, Malcolm, forget plotting, just write a scene from the perspective of a compelling character, a character you can identify with in some way. Stop this scene at a clutch point—a high or low—like you are a pulp writer. Then come back to it and try to write the character out of that situation and/or toward another scene you have imagined. Modern people, like us, who have gotten most of our narrative exposure through movies and TV, write well that way, scene by scene. Don’t plot the whole story out or it will read mechanically, like a TV crime drama that unfolds predictably.
Political correctness norms are so ever changing that only a high-output professional writer should even try to hit them. It sounds like you have too many muses crowding your creative precinct, like too many soccer moms yelling instructions at the kid playing on the field. As a beginning writer you want one muse for a single work. Try this: Imagine a reader who is a lot like you were when you first fell in love with reading. Now age this person as necessary considering the genre. You will now write your story imagining it is to be read by only that version of yourself. Your goal is to have the reader engaged at the end of each scene to the point that he will want to read more. Imagine this kid is your entire readership and if you lose him you lose your writing job.
Randy, and Dale and I used to mail each other serials in the early 80s, which was an entertaining writing exercise. This is essentially what I use my website for, building stories. I have stories on this site that I have been writing since 2011 which are yet ongoing. This story must be one pleasing to your younger self’s sensibilities and sense of narrative pace. As with my experience with Dale and randy, you may target one particular friend and write for them, even if they do not read it.
The above method, the imagining of a chronological muse, is essentially how self-help books are written. An excellent example of this method would be the movie that so enthralled my oldest son in his boyhood years in the 1980s, The NeverEnding Story.
Good luck, Malcolm.
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