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The Worst Writing Metaphor Ever

July 21, 2010

In the past, when I’ve attempted the whole novel writing thing, I haven’t done much in the way of note taking or outline making. I just kinda winged it. Sometimes, good things happened and everything would click with no effort, like walking through a forest and suddenly coming to a clearing full of adorable chocolate bunnies.  And sometimes, horrible things happened and nothing made any sense in an irreparable sort of way, like walking through a forest and accidentally stumbling into a clearing full of  angry triceratops.

So this time,  I’m making an outline. Now I can see all the parts of the story that will be easy sailing ahead of time…oh, and I also have a full view of the bits that could cause brain hemorrhaging, the tragic, poorly imagined bits that I wrote down just as I began to run out of ideas. The plot holes. The things that make no sense. They’re like a mass of dropped stitches in a row of pristine knitting: I can’t stop thinking about them until I’ve fixed them.

However, obsessive urges to fix things are not necessarily indicators of sane good judgment, so before I rip my plot a new one I’m writing this. I’ve read that rewriting before the first draft is complete is a dangerous thing to do, and this isn’t even a first draft yet. The idea is that the writer will become preoccupied with the idea of getting everything JUST right the first time, and will keep rewriting ad nauseam and never finish.

I know from experience that this is completely true. The problem is the triceratops. I know they’re herbivores, but so are rhinoceri, and rhinoceri are mean-tempered and evil. I think of a triceratops as an even more enormous reptilian rhinoceros.

Before, in the time before the outline, every time I turned a corner in the vast, dark forest of my plot, there was an equal chance that the next clearing would hold bunnies OR dinosaurs. I couldn’t see them coming, so I kind of just took them as they came. Sometimes I got to sit back and eat chocolate bunnies, and sometimes I got attacked by triceratops (I guess there were in-betweens as well, but for the sake of my ridiculous metaphor we can pretend there weren’t).

Now there’s the outline. The forest is gone. The plot is now a vast, open field full of chocolate bunnies and dinosaurs. Of course, what I’m going to do in my increasingly tedious bunny/dinosaur metaphor is, I’m going to go through the field gorging myself on chocolate bunnies and avoiding the goddamn triceratops. At the end, I’ll have a tummy ache and there will be nothing but dinosaurs left.

Ok, now to complicate this situation even further, as the writer I have the power to make the dinosaurs less threatening before I plunge into the field with them. Let’s say I use a shrink ray and miniaturize them. I can’t make them disappear altogether, but I can at least make the problem smaller.

But can I handle the shrink ray? Will I go mad with power and shrink all the bunnies? Will a hapless group of schoolchildren wander by during my rampage and get shrunken down to doll-like beings? Fancy published writers who give fancy writing advice that is also published tell me I can’t handle the shrink ray.

Now that I have rephrased a perfectly sensible piece of writing advice  in this tangential manner, it kind of sounds like a dare to me. I’m gonna rewrite, and to hell with the consequences.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 8:09 pm

    Good luck! um..avoid the chocolate bunnies that are busy cuddling with dinosaurs.

  2. October 12, 2010 4:31 pm

    Hey, check out National Novel Writing Month ( ; great opportunity to jump into your novel while a bunch of others do the same.

    • October 12, 2010 9:40 pm

      Thanks! I’m already on the site, this will be my third year participating!

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