You’ve got your hen all picked out. She’s a plucky, fluffy dame with meat in all the right places. Her feathers are so purdy a peacock would swoon. So you strut over to her, certain she’ll be just as taken with you. Visions of a satisfying relationship spin in your head…Cordon Bleu, fried chicken, Coq au Vin.
Your eye is on the prize and you’re ready to baste.
Only she takes one look at you, squawks, and beats feet across the barn yard. Her feathers ruffle menacingly as she tosses a glare in your direction. “Bah-gock!”
Holy Hell, that fowl can move, can’t she? Gonna have to switch to secret squirrel mode. With this approach, you’re stealth personified, sneaking up behind your chosen biddy.
She clucks and sputters, giving you the skunk eye. You freeze and avert your gaze so she thinks she’s free of your radar.
Relax, little chicky. I’m no wolf. Just a people-person out for a little stroll…(maybe even whistle a tune to convince her).
She arches her back and scratches the dirt.
Chicken/story: Back off, human. I’ll peck your eyes out.
Writer: Who me? I just want to get to know you better.
Chicken/story: Harrumph. I’m a mystical creature of beauty who must be wooed. Bring me feed.
Writer: But…you’re already mine. I am your master.
Chicken/story: Master! Pluck this! Bah-gock!
That’s how writing is—the perfect tale struts in front of you, preening, dazzling you to the point of obsession. You think you’ve got it all plotted out, beginning to end. Until you sit down to write it.
And it bites you.
Your characters do NOT appreciate your opinion or influence. You can sneak up on them all you want, but no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t write an alpha hero who likes to knit sweaters. He just won’t do it. Prick.
Or how about the tough as nails heroine suddenly turning into a whimpering, simpering princess.
Writer: W.T.F! I didn’t write you like that!
Heroine: Stuff it, heifer. This is my story. I’ll tell it any damn way I please.
And that cool setting no one else has ever written? Well, you can declare war on the Octopus all you want, but it makes for a stupid story.
Writing is hard. You have to wrestle the shit out of yourself to do it. Not literally, calm down. This isn’t that kind of post.
But sometimes you can just grab a story around the neck and pound it into submission. Other times, the story pounds you, making you weep and snarl. There are days I’d rather staple my face to the carpet than sit down at my computer.
But I do it. Because if I don’t chase that damn cock-a-doodle-do around the yard, I’ll never eat my Coq au Vin.