Storytelling: How far to the story horizon?

Where does the horizon of your story lie? When it is far off that can be reassuring, but the closer it comes the more the doubts form…

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

story horizon

How far away is the story horizon? Very often as you’re telling a story you can see where it’s going. The horizon is quite far off. It’s reassuring. You don’t have to worry where you’re heading. You trust the story to guide you and there’s promise in a distant horizon. Unless of course you’re one of those writers who plans out every step in advance. But where’s the fun in that? Sometimes the horizon is barely minutes away, if not right under your nose. You have to stretch out your arms in front of you and feel your way forward like a blind person. There’s a constant worry that maybe you’ve taken a wrong turning and the path will lead you nowhere or you’ll trip over some unwanted circumstance and have to nurse your bruises as you fumble your way back. Writing is not a smooth progression. Often progress is in fits and starts. The story jerks forward, suddenly moving at speed, only to slow and stop again. It’s frustrating. Every slowing of the story spawns doubt. Sometimes, if you’re stuck, it helps to raise that fact in the story itself. For example, when you can’t choose between two possible ways forward, make that the dilemma of your character. Sometimes that can lead to a resolution. Although surprises cannot be ruled out…

Thanks to my son Iannis with whom I discussed these ideas.

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