A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to an interview with Stephen King on NPR. He was talking about his new novel, JOYLAND, which had just come out, or was about to. He mentioned that he had imagined a young boy in a wheelchair, flying a kite at the beach. How for some time he had wanted to write a novel about the boy, but hadn’t been able to — it wasn’t a story yet. And then one day he “looked” down the beach, saw an amusement park, and a situation came to mind.
The comment resonated, and so I pulled his book ON WRITING from the shelf. I’d read it years ago, and remembered thinking then that his advice to write without an outline wasn’t for me. But now, as I thumbed through the pages, smiling at the highlighted segments that had spoken to me back then, I reread the paragraphs encouraging writers to concern themselves far less with plot, and concentrate on situation, instead.
I wasn’t prepared to hear (or reasonably consider) this advice ten years ago, but I am now. I’ve got a character, a setting, and a situation, but no specific plot. And for the first time I’m ready to let go of my need to control, and allow the story to go where it will, to tell me what will happen.