For those of you that don’t know me, I have a thing about roads. They are one of my jams. Give me an empty road stretching off into the distance, or vanishing around a curve – the lonelier and more secluded the better – and I’ll be happy to watch/walk down it.
Since I’m talking about them, here’s one now:
And while I can look at this picture all day, my mind playing the “What’s just over that last hill” game, I’m not the biggest fan of writing about journeys.
Part of it is that I’m impatient. I want to get to the action. That doesn’t mean that I’m against pausing at a cool location to look around, but I don’t need chapters and chapters of travel.
Unless, that is, I know that the journey is part of it. For that I give you “The Lord of the Rings” as exhibit A.
On the writing side, I tend toward doing exactly the opposite of what I’m wanting – which, I suppose, is why I’m not all that big a fan. I’ll get tangled up in distances and how long it would take to get from one place to another. Will it take too long? Not long enough? What are the logistics like? How much will my characters need to take with them? How will they move it all?
Part of it is that I want to get the details right. I’ve got a history of asking my readers to swallow some pretty unusual things: Aliens, Weirdness, Faster than Light travel. And, as I’ve said before, the more of the little details I can get right, the easier it’ll be to accept the more fantastical elements.
That doesn’t mean that I need to catalogue every step. In my current project, I found myself doing nearly, exactly, that and it turned the writing days into a slog.
I remember a time not too long ago when I was scribbling notes about what was coming nest and I paused, then wrote, “And they get there Finally!!”
That gave me the permission – yes, I know, I was seeking permission from myself – to go back and either condense some chapters, or strip them out entirely. It was a bit of rocky going at first, but then I got some traction and I got moving. More importantly my characters and the story got moving again.
And all this doesn’t mean that there isn’t merit in the journey. The version of The Lord of the Rings where Frodo and Sam teleport to Orodruin doesn’t work for me. By all means show me some of that cool landscape. Give me some character moments during the trip. Lay down some foreshadowing.
Like other aspects of crafting a story – worldbuilding comes swiftest to mind – detailing a journey is like a spice. It adds flavor to the dish.
Now I’ve gone and made myself hungry.
Thanks for reading.
Be safe out there. Be Excellent to Each other.
I’ll see you on Thursday.
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