In-Between Update: The Light Bulb Effect


The light bulb has switched on again. I swear I’ve got it this time! Like a mad scientist, I scramble to find a pen and paper and write furiously until my fingers cramp.  “This synopsis is more solid than the last, right?” I ask plaintively of my fiance for about the tenth time.  His smile bolsters my confidence and I sit back to read through the squiggles I scratched out.  Yup, this is it, I think to myself, I have finally fit all the stray pieces together and the puzzle is no longer a Picasso.

After forcing myself to complete a severe rough draft of the entire story arc, I realized I had far more insight as to where my plot would lead and how each character would fit in to the plot points.  I believe writers have a disease that makes them feverishly revisit and rewire the plot line, characters, setting, etc.  I think it’s rare that stories have the same plot from the first draft to the finished product.  At least, I hope it’s not that rare, otherwise I really must have a disease!  After the first draft, I decided to revisit the main plot line.  There were pieces missing and as I compiled research, I realized how wobbly of a construct my plan was involving the main character.  While great science fiction doesn’t explicate each piece of technology in the story or how an event can occur detail for detail, it is imperative that the author understand most of the development behind whatever new pieces of technologies or events they are introducing in order to develop a solid plot line.  If you cannot comprehend the concept, it will be even more difficult to convey it to a reader who may or may not know of what you write (and if they do, then ridicule meet abashed).

Light Lamp

Thus, I spent about twenty minutes the other night of sudden inspiration writing out a brief plot synopsis with which, for the first time, I am convinced.  I’d like to refer to this as the light bulb effect: sudden inspiration blinds you like a light bulb over your head and you have this compelling idea, but it happens often and forces you to change your original plans until your inner critic is finally sated.  I’ve had many light bulbs about the main story line over the past several years and the story is nothing like my original concept.  I embrace the change with an open heart.  One, it means I have left room to grow as a writer. Two, it means I will let the story be its own conductor.  Last, but not least, it is the acceptance of regular, normal failure.  My first idea was a flop. Had I stayed with it for the final story, I doubt it would have had potential.  We don’t refer to drafts as smooth because the serrated edges of missing character introductions, weak character development, missing plot points and a flimsy story spine are waiting to be sanded down.  The best advice I have ever been given is write, even if the stench is more poignant than rotten eggs in a fish market, because it is only the first step along an imperfect path.

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