Writing has been hard work. I’ve had trouble getting from the end of the middle of one story, to its conclusion, which I’ve worked out. And, with my novella, I’ve begun fixing everything I’ve realised is wrong with it, but it takes a while to warm up.
I’m not feeling the mojo, in other words, but I know I don’t have to. The magic of inspiration will happen while I do the work, not if I wait around for it.
Thus, while I while away my weekends and evenings editing, and with my thoughts recently upon Westerns, I thought I would show you how a story is like a horse.
I’ll say that again:
A story is like a horse. Let me show you how
You start with the bones: a plot or idea and perhaps a character or location. There are parts and they will move.
Then, you start to add the muscle. These are details. There is colour and as a result, there will be movement.
But all you have is a horse. It could be a great horse, but actually, it’s just standing there, it will get bored. I will get bored. Art is fine, but it can be better.
What makes art, horses and stories better is dress ups! Make your story or horse extraordinary. Make your story communicate something individual. Characters should be fully delineated, just like all horses are different.
Put more stuff into your story, make your horse interact. Provide motivation, reward and danger.
Personality can only go so far though. You need your horse – your story – to do something. Plot is action. You made a horse, now you must set it free, or to work, or send the mighty beast into battle. Make something happen to the horse.
Now your story horse is galloping, but there needs to be an arc, or trajectory to your horse’s journey. Remember, few horse races are in straight lines. Maybe there will be tragedy, maybe triumph, but whatever happens, there needs to be a conclusion.
Even if your ending is unexpected, whatever you do, don’t decide, right at the end of your tethered horse, it was something else entirely. A story is a story, don’t make it into a think piece, personal essay, and don’t end it in a dream.