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Monday, November 28, 2011

Beyond Infinity

To infinity, and beyond!

No, I’m not talking about Buzz Lightyear and his spindly-legged frienemy,Woody. That, dear friends, is the phrase that has gone though my head recently every time I sit down at the computer and try to nail down a scene.

The glorious thing about writing is that the possibilities are endless as to the number of directions the scenes can take as they play out on the page. The horrible thing about writing is that the possibilities are endless as to the number of directions the scenes can take as they play out on the page.

Recently, I have to confess, I have found the sheer number of possibilities to be crippling. I can start writing a scene, and then pause, wonder if perhaps they should be in a ballroom instead of the garden, or if it would be better to have them rolling along in a carriage. Should it be gloomy and foggy? Should sunshine add a note of irony for what will be a catastrophic day for my characters? What if the heroine is amused by the hero’s quip, or annoyed, or inexplicably moved? Maybe someone should interrupt and add a new bit of information to the story, sending them off on yet another path.

Ack! So many possibilities, and only one right path.

Or was there? What if there were many directions a story could follow, and all of which will lead the characters to where they ultimately need to be? Like diverging paths in the woods, what if the one less taken and the one most trampled met up down the road, past the copse of trees obscuring my view?

Hmm – this new thought had merit! Massaging my rigid shoulder muscles and unclenching my teeth, I decided to give up on the idea of having to write that perfect scene or die trying. Instead, I let myself just . . .write.

Believe it or not, I was on to something. As the words flowed, I realized that though different choices led to somewhat different journeys, my characters could still find their happily ever after. By releasing the idea that there was only one perfect route, I opened myself up to allowing the characters to have a bit of adventure. And if it didn’t work, I could always revise it.

Success!! My lesson for the day, I think, is that sometimes we have to give up the idea of having full control in order to move forward both on the page and perhaps even in life.

Do you ever get bogged down with all the possibilities? Whether it’s writing or choosing what to order at a restaurant (do NOT get me started on how long that takes me, lol), have you ever just given up on trying to find the perfect answer and ended up being happier for it? I hope it worked out as well for you as it did for me!


  1. I'm not sure if I get bogged down but I do rewrite a scene in a totally different direction if it is not working and usually that works beautifully. It frees my mind because I think my muse knows which way it wants to go and if I'm going in the wrong direction with my characters, my muse will stall out. So I have to go back, change pov's, or change the setting and see if that works better. Great blog, Erin! Loved it!

  2. Great tips, Suzie! Thanks so much for stopping by - and good luck keeping the muse happy :)

  3. I'm more likely to make a quick decision and run with it. That isn't always best, but after years of doing crisis intervention & rearranging my day to meet a patient need it has become second nature. The good part is there's not time to agonize over a decision. Now, when it comes to picking a paint color for my living room, it has taken six years. ;)

    Samantha G

  4. LOL - I envy you your decisiveness! And it must work, because I know full well how wonderful your stories are :) Thanks for dropping by and sharing!