Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A-Z Challenge: O is for Openness

O is for Openness

Writing is a powerful form of creation. Sometimes, all that power goes to our heads, and we try to force our characters to do things that we want. Usually, this is the point when the story starts to drag and the characters revolt (or become revolting).

This is why openness is so important for the writer.

Yes, we have a chance to create entire worlds on the page. Yes, we have freedom with our story. But at the heart of every great idea, sometimes the story takes on a life of its own.

When we fight against this, trying to force the tale back towards our expectations, we have closed our minds to the power of the story. We might be able to finish the draft this way, but we won't have been true to the story that wanted to be told.

How can we, as writers, be open to our stories?

By listening. If something feels wrong but you write it anyway, listen to that sense of wrongness.

Maybe your characters need to say something else right now: let them. Give your characters the freedom to grow beyond your expectations, and your story will be the better for it.

Keep an outline of the path the story is on, but don't be surprised if you have to revise this multiple times. Be open to the changes that occur naturally in your story: don't force the plot to your conclusion, but let it reveal its climax to you. This may be what you expected, or it may be something completely different. Either way, trust your story.

How do you react when your story deviates from your intentions?

Visit the challenge blog and see what other people are talking about for O!


  1. As a 'pantser' I can go along with what you're saying here :-) You do have to listen because even when your mind is open your characters can take you on a dead-end journey!

    1. Sherry, I'm a fellow pantser...check back tomorrow for a discussion of writing without a map!

      Thanks for posting :)

  2. Oh man - listening to that sense of wrongness is a biggy. How I wish I could listen to that better and not let Miss Lazy Bones talk me out of it.

    1. The more you listen, the easier it gets...but the work never gets easy, right?

  3. Oh YES!!! I totally agree! Many times, as a younger playwright, that I had arguments with my characters, trying to force them to say/do what I wanted! As I've aged (like fine wine, yes?), I've learned to listen to what they want to say with an open mind and heart. It truly works wonders for the final product!

    Texas Playwright Chick

    1. Absolutely like fine wine! ;) I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who needs to learn this lesson! Thanks for the visit.