Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Don't Like Set Up

I'm finally off with White Echoes! It took two full weeks before I fell into a good writing rhythm, but it's here at last. And I think I found why it was so difficult.

I don't like set up.   (of course if you read the post's title, you guessed that one)

All this time spent introducing characters, hinting at the world, foreshadowing the main character... It's like that part in chess when you plan six moves ahead. The ability to do so is important. It's capital.

The same goes for a novelist's ability to set up the plot.

I understand all that. I really do. I still don't like set up. 

But I'm nearly done with it in White Echoes. I'm reaching my First Plot Point! I'm writing it! I'll sail right past it, and into the story proper.

One word: WHEEEE!  (yeah, not a real word. HUSH)


  1. I like set up, the only problem I have is that I tend to rush through it. But I really do like it, despite that.

  2. I enjoy set up, but figuring out exactly how to disseminate it throughout the story. No one likes info dumps, so I try to go right into plot points directly while building the world around the story. I'm not sure how good I am at it yet, though a number of readers have said this is one of my strengths.

  3. I've never thought about it like that. I see set up as that thing I do before getting on with the story.

    I also finally finished mine...

    and. FROZE. SOLID.


  4. Yeah, I gotta admit this is one thing I don't miss from my epic fantasy days. I still have to do it in urban fantasy, but it's a different level from a different angle, and I find it an enjoyable balance.

  5. Ted: That's what I've been trying to do, and I find it hard to establish some critical elements while the story rolls on. Hopefully it'll be better after a first edit. Now I just want to be done.

    Misha: Set up does go before the story proper, but in my opinion it has its place. You're establishing the stakes and the players. Then you drop the bomb on them, and tell the story.

    Margo: You're lucky. I've had this problem no matter the genre I try (well, I do hang in the same general area). One of NaNoWriMo's advantage is that I'm past set-up in just a few days. XD

  6. If you're really feeling that I WANNA BE DONE ALREADY sensation -- just a suggestion, might be off base -- try looking at your conflict and tension levels. My experience is that those parts that make me bored or restless or don't flow just right are actually missing something and I'm picking up on it on a subconscious level. Later, someone will *always* point out that part and tell me there's something wrong with it. Usually, it's a matter of conflict, tension, or inner conflict being underdeveloped.

  7. Oh, I remember you saying something similar on the forums, Margo. I agree, and the truth is I think I know what's wrong, I just haven't found how to fix it. As I'm good with *what* is introduced and only worried about the *how*, however, I'm moving on to the rest of the manuscript.

    Still not a fan of set-up. I *always* have problems with it!