Saturday, February 16, 2013

Work and Play

Hi, this is your cabin girl, and I was supposed to post last week...
...But I didn't.
So I'm posting now.

For the past few months, I've been in the unusual position of having two writing projects at the same time that are of equal importance to me. And today I realized a really big difference between them. And it's the difference between work and play.

One of my stories, the one I started first, is kind of a serious fantasy story with well-defined magical rules and intense, complex problems the characters have to overcome. I can't just scribble down scenes in the last fifteen minutes of math class for this story, this is a story that I have to seriously think about, and I need three or four hour long chunks of free time and a computer to make anything happen. I love this story, and every new idea I get for it, even just what my characters are going to talk about during the next scene, excites me.

The other story, the one I didn't start until a few months ago, is more light-hearted and fun, with a magic system I make up as I go, and characters I can't get enough of. I can use two-minute periods to jot down the next few sentences, no matter where I am or what's happening in the story. I've got a general idea of the plot, but when it comes down to  the next scene, I don't know what will happen until I write it. I love this story too, but for different reasons.

The first story feels like hard work and thought exercise, but that doesn't make it any less fun than the second story, which feels like a hobby or a game. And the second story, despite my lack of attention to detail and simple plot, has gotten a lot of positive feedback from my readers.

I think both stories are important for me to write.

People need both work and play. Writing can be either.


  1. I love the idea of using one project as work and another as play. Too often I think of my writing as work and to do something else is play!

  2. Amber, what a great way to meet all your writerly needs at one time! It sounds fun to have both a plotted story and a 'pantser' story going at the same time - and then see the responses to the two. It's a help to figuring out a few things about your writing style and what gives life to your stories, as well as what you'll need to keep the plot tight. I liked this article that talks about using the best of both at the same time:

  3. Thanks for that link, Jonene. I'm hoping to find some kind of balance someday between my desire to charge off into a story with no plan whatsoever, and my realization that the sturdy but intricate kind of plot I love best does not just fall out of the sky and hit me on the head. Plan the plot, but let the characters surprise you. I wonder if that will really work, since character decisions should drive the plot. I tend to get in big trouble if I make my characters follow a plot.


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