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Back To Formula



There's a line in the first Spider-Man film from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire outings, which is, "We need to take the whole line back to formula." In the context of the film, this was work on a performance enhancer; which was to increase physical strength, among other things. Dr. Stromm points out that side effects were violence, aggression and insanity. While Norman Osborn cites that Stromm is the only member of staff who doesn't believe the enhancer is ready for human testing, the General asks Stromm for his opinion. Which is: "We need to take the whole line back to formula."

In other words, strip shit down to the basics and give it an overhaul.

In writing terms, this is what I did.


I say this from reviewing more recent projects. The last novella I wrote didn't sit well with the beta readers at all. Now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because the beta readers are there to give critical and constructive feedback - but I'm not obliged to take it. It's more a case of cherry-picking the criticisms to help hone and refine the work into something sharper, tighter, and which brings my vision of the story to life. That said, for this one novella, the beta feedback showed me where my game was not so tight. As for the last novel I wrote? That quickly ran out of steam, at a novella length.

So I took 'the whole line' back to formula.

From when I started writing, I was knocking out novel-length work, with little in the way of outlining. The move to focus more on short stories came from the need to get more work into the marketplace quicker; and build that body of work. With that achieved, then came the move to produce novellas. Now, with a number of those done, it's back to novels, at least for the time being. The bottom line is that I write what speaks to me, or what I think would make a cool/entertaining/disturbing/pick-your-adjective story

I've said before that from both an author and reader point of view, it's the long(er) fiction that moves me, because I find it to be a more immersive experience. The first couple of times I'd written a novel, there wasn't as much in the way of outlining. Be it known that everything I write has a degree of outline. All of my writing, from short stories to novel, has the bare minimum of the elevator pitch and the ending. I outline everything but now, the way I outline depends on whether it's a short story or a novella or a novel.

That's for the time being, at least. Because I'm still writing at pace and I don't want to be so arrogant/complacent/pick-your-adjective that I think 'this is good enough.' So at some point down the line, I might head back to formula.

#writing #game #shortstory #novella #novel

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