Sunday, 20 March 2011

Stick or Twist?

Ideas are cheap. Writing is hard.

Writing short stories is even harder, if you ask me. Because not only do you have to worry about all the things  that go into a story (y'know, characters and motives and plots and stuff) but you also need a twist. Twists are wriggly buggers. When you think you've got a good one, it slips away.

Writing a story with a good twist is mind-bogglingly difficult. Not only do you need a decent story, but then you have to get all creative again and come up with a twist. The twist has to be logical, fit with the story, be foreshadowed but not be obvious.
I know all this but I really struggle with it. I fear I can't do it, or at least do it well enough. Ideas are cheap because 99% of them are unoriginal. As an example: this morning I came up with an idea for a story where robbers use a time machine to steal gold in the future (dull, unoriginal) but the twist is they are stealing from their future selves (never saw that coming!), so they end up poor. That kind of thing would be laughed out of hand by most magazines as derivative pap.

                           Used with permission from the very funny Savage Chickens

But I wonder if such a set up can be saved. What about a double twist? You take the lame "seen it before" set up and play out the twist. But, in fact, that's just the set up for a second twist. You play with the reader's familiarity or anticipation of the first twist, creating a false expectation so that the second one is surprise.

I don't know if that would work. You still need to produce a logical and coherent second twist, and you will have the bulk of your story being dull or unoriginal - which is never good. But maybe the variation at the end could save it? My plan is to come up with a few stories that follow this structure and see what happens.

Of course, grand declarations of intent mean nothing. Knuckling down and doing this will not be easy. I know what I am supposed to be writing. I have an idea of what I want to do. Then again - ideas are cheap, and writing is hard.

No comments:

Post a Comment