Monday, September 19, 2011

So What Are You Afraid Of?

copyright 2011 by Ron Adams

I took my son to his martial arts class this week, and the Instructor had the whole class doing something different. He took an established kata, one that the class knew well, consisting essentially of a series of defensive blocks set in a circle pattern. Master Sanchez then had the students build from that, adding a series of punches and kick between the blocks. It worked for a time, and then the kata fell apart for every student on the floor. When he asked them
why, several answers were offered, but one student found the key.

“We were afraid of screwing it up,” he said. And he was right. No new parts were added; all the students were familiar with all the moves they were asked to do. The problem was doing it differently. I noticed how that applies to writing as well.

We all know how to string words together in a sentence, and how the sentences make
paragraphs, and how enough paragraphs put together make a story. But what happens
when you write in a different manner? What if you write in first person one chapter, then third person the next, like James Patterson does in his Alex Cross novels? What if you write a western instead of a mystery, like Robert B. Parker? What if you’re detective is also a wizard, like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden? I think you get my point.

We all need to sharpen our skills from time to time, to do something different and expand our repertoire. Whenever I get to feeling complacent and confident, I take on a new genre, or a new perspective, or even a whole new form. The process helps the writer to face the things they fear in writing, and to learn that there is nothing wrong with messing up from time to time. It gives us the chance to start fresh and get it right the next time. So, what are you afraid of?


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I love this, Ron. And you are right on. Change is scary, period. Some people embrace it, some run from it. But we can't hide - it's inevitable!

It's a little tough in series, because if you establish a first person POV with a certain voice and certain main characters, you're expected to maintain that environment. I guess that's why I started two more series, ha! I needed a change!

Have a great day, my friend.

Marta Stephens said...

What a great analogy and good question. I’ve written both in first and third person. I’ve written both male and female protagonist and I always try to push the plot as far as I can. I suppose if I have a fear is of getting so close, so wrapped up in the writing that I don’t know when to leave well enough alone. I’ve found that there is such a thing as too many twists and too many characters, but I don’t know that I can tell a story any other way.

Kim Smith said...

I guess I am not afraid of anything when it comes to writing. I write mystery, romance, and fantasy and some of it in the YA field and some of it in adult. I find it very freeing to my muse to switch to something different and new. I know it probably hurts me with fans because some do not read this or that, and I for sure do not want a crossover from my YA to my adult work, but it's just who I am at this point in time.

I am liking this post, Mr. Ron. :)

Dawn Anon said...

I can write a court report that would knock your socks off. I'm fearless when it comes to writing reports that I know might generate threats of someone knocking my socks off. But I'm terrified of almost every part of fiction writing.

Yet, I dream of doing it. I think about fiction writing every day. I don't know why I can't transfer my confidence from the non-fiction to the fiction.

I like this blog. Thank you.