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February 23, 2014
Posted at 10:53 am

Writing Question

We've all experienced those dark days when the muses that normally inspire us pack their bags, wave farewell, and head off to a family retreat--probably on or somewhere near Mount Helicon. I'm sure many people have written books suggesting how to spark creativity during these desperate hours, but I already have a solution that has worked pretty well for me in the past; take some time off to read stuff that other authors have written. It's a self-indulgent impulse, I won't deny that, but it's also netted me spinoffs of some pretty cool ideas that I've later managed to work into my own stories. (Please note, before someone writes me screaming about plagiarism, that's NOT what the above sentence is talking about. Anyone who truly loves to write can tell you that what they do, in part at least, is an homage to authors whom they've read and admired.)

Browsing through SOL's wide variety of offerings, I've frequently encountered a writing style I've dubbed The Outline. It's very common in DoOver stories, although I've certainly read it elsewhere as well. Typically, the author creates an interesting group of characters, and then hopscotch's passed days, weeks, or sometimes even months of their lives. To be clear, I'm not talking about the abbreviated writing style where everything accept sexual encounters gets pushed to the background, that genre already has its own label, Stroke Story.

Why do so many authors do this? As far as I can tell, it doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of writing ability, although it's certainly frustrating as Hell when I do encounter it. I'm not suggesting that every action, no matter how minuscule, has to be recorded in order to make a story realistic, but when you devote just a few sentences to time spans covering days or weeks of your characters lives, I would suggest that you slow down, and let the reader live a few of those intervening experiences with them. That's what makes your story and the people in it believable.

Am I missing something? If there's any light you can shed, I'd enjoy hearing from you.

Okay, so perhaps another way to dodge a lack of creativity is by writing a pointless blog entry.