Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Keep Unfolding

"Expansion, that is the idea the novelist must cling to, not completion, not rounding off, but opening out."
~E. M. Forster

Photo source (http://fun.families.com/blog/easy-paper-dolls-and-paper-shapes)

This quote requires some thought. Deeper thought equals greater understanding. But the truth of it is powerful.


To become great writers we must concentrate our efforts on opening, building, rounding and smoothing the rough edges of our stories - not on completing them. If our focus is on finishing and querying, then we can't see the folds that are left within our stories, waiting to be UNfolded.

Resist the siren song of "The End". Stay with your story, your characters, the moments coming to life on the page until there is nothing left to be expanded. That is when your story is truly finished, truly great.

How do you stay focused on expanding and opening your story rather than on the finish line?

27 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

Good question! I suppose I'm guilty of focusing on the end...anxious to see if anyone else would find my effort worthwhile. I think the muse decides when to let you go, though and that sometimes has nothing to do with where you THINK you are with the story.

Lenny said...

hi miss shannon! for me i dont think about the end cause lots of time i dont know how its gonna end til i get part way through writing. sometime how you think its gonna end could change. its like how my brother andrew builds stuff from a drawing and then he starts and changes it after he gets going so it can be better when hes done.
...smiles from lenny

Christine Danek said...

Good question. I'm not sure. i think right now I'm trying to make it through revisions. I think just the love of writing and my drive to make whatever I'm working on the best it can be. Although, I would like the WiP I'm working on now, finish up in the next year.
Trying not to rush myself.
Have a great day!

Laura Pauling said...

I'm a big plotter, so hopefully I give my story enough time to unfold during the plotting and then during the writing also! Hard to know.

salarsenッ said...

I always ask myself What more could I do? What more could this character go through? Have a thrown enough rocks at them? Have they grown? And then, I go in the opposite direction that I'd planned. I usually find something interesting and unexpected on the other side.

Diane said...

That was a deep question.... finding that line between expanding too much and not enough is difficult. :O)

Candyland said...

This is a great post. It's very important to not close ourselves off once we think we're finished. The story can always be expanded upon. The trick is knowing how/when/what to do.

Tamika: said...

You find the most amazing quotes:) This one is my favorite!

I'm definitely slowing down and trying to really unfold with this story.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Excellent question.

I try not to rush. Because I want to know what's going to happen, I just enjoy the discovery. The end is always nice to type, but I want to appreciate the journey to it.

Patti Lacy said...

LOVE the paper dolls and other cutouts!!

HMMM. My wild imagination just kicks in and takes the story to faraway places. The problem here is trimming away those interesting but immaterial borders!
LOL.
Patti

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

Great quote and I love the cut outs because I'm weird and will do cutouts like that in my free time.
Anyways, how do I stay focused...I'll have to get back to you on that one because for the next month focus is something that will be scattered about on various things if I have any at all. Before this month though I would stay focused by continually researching, and developing the dynamics of my character and the details of the plot as mile markers.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good quote! Adn good question. I wish I had the answer - but I guess we just keep learning and trying and we'll get there :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

"Expanding" - that's the perfect word for what I'm just now figuring out about my writing process. I start really well, but then I need to dig deeper and expand the story so that it can become "fully realized" in the MS.

Great quote! :)

Mary Aalgaard said...

It's all about the journey. I'll keep that visual in mind as I continue to unfold my story. That IS it, really. It's inside, and layer upon layer it opens up.

Jen Chandler said...

Wonderful quote and thoughts. It's all too easy to rush to "the end". I'm learning to slow down, to really pay attention not only to what I'm doing, but what's happening around me. This summer has been a rough lesson in slowing down. I'm looking forward to finding that balance and getting on the move once again!

Happy September!
Cheers,
Jen

Tere Kirkland said...

it usually takes me several rounds of editing after the first draft is finished before I feel like I've described the story in enough depth.

Crit partners definitely help tell you where your story is lacking!

Tahereh said...

big sigh. i struggle with this a lot. i always need to pace myself and focus on writing the story without jumping to the conclusion.

thanks for the reminder! love your posts :D

Elana Johnson said...

For me, it's all about layers. I can work through a draft and be "done" but not so done. The next time I might work on emotions. And then evening out the setting problems. And then... and then...

I think that's what it means by opening up.

Angela Ackerman said...

Ha, I never think about the end. For me, it feels like there's always one more thing to be unfolded...ergh.

#revisionneverendsforme

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Robyn Campbell said...

What a cool quote. I was pondering something like this the other day. When I first started writing my novel, I focused on the finish. Because of that, I had to go back and delete entire chapters.

Never again. But. I'm thankful that I saw what I had done before querying.

The way I stay focused is just being immersed in the world I've made. It's a fun place and I enjoy being there.

Such an awesome post from a super cool lady that I love.

Amanda Sablan said...

I'm such a perfectionist that it's really not too difficult for me to keep on polishing my story and smoothing the rough edges. I'm also a slow writer because I can't stand the thought of rushing through only to realize later on that I've missed something crucial. Even though I usually do that regardless. :]

Carolyn V. said...

Wow, that is a good question. I sometimes have to leave it alone and come back. Then I can round out the beginning, middle, end and make it work.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I usually know the beginning and end. Getting the characters from Point A to Point C challenges my imagination. Usually, I'm as surprised as everyone else when the story thread links up to the ending.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Bethany Mattingly said...

I sometimes think that I'm trying too hard to be perfect and I just need to relax and write. Just let the voices of my characters shine, make the plot impenetrable, and just have fun :) I hope you get a chance to stop by my blog and enter my contest!!!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Keep unfolding? I love that idea! Thank you! What a great life mantra!

Valerie Geary said...

You always seem to know exactly what I need to hear. I've been struggling with this like you wouldn't believe and it has been detrimental to my writing progress. Now I must take that quote, put it above my computer, read it every day and put it to practice. Thank you Shannon!

JW said...

Hi! I am stopping by to mingle with the BBQ party. This is my first visit at your blog and I like what I see. You have a new follower in me. :) This statement is profound. I love expansion. I haven't written a novel yet, but when I do I will be sure to remember this idea. Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by my blog it is much appreciated! Janelle

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