More often than not, vision fuels writing. But the two don’t always coincide: after all, an idea is only ever as good as its execution. If it was as easy to write books as it was to fantasize about great ideas, then 99% percent of the population would be authors (the last 1% would be gods…for some reason).
But writing being difficult is only one of the barriers that cause it and vision to clash. It’s far more frustrating to be able to write well, only to realize that your writing deviates heavily from what you envisioned. I’ll address our first problem before going to this one, as it’s where we’ll spend most of the article.
The answer to not being able to write books as easy as fantasizing them is simple: git gud. No, seriously. You need to get better at writing in order to make that cool idea a reality. The better you are, the more closely you can implement it. Remember, you can’t have cool stuff like Shardblades and Windrunners if there wasn’t a Stormlight Archive. Cool ideas require cool executions; cool executions require great skill.
Hoo, that was a lot quicker than I expected. Okay, enough stalling: what the devil do I mean when I say that your writing can sometimes deviate from your initial vision? After all, you always write with a certain set of images in mind; how would it be possible to somehow betray that without knowing?
Let’s put it this way: I was recently going through some revisions on my first book (soon to be re-released April 30, along with books 2 and 3, stay tuned for that), which, if you asked me a few days ago, was a pretty unassuming fantasy adventure. But when a friend of mine looked it over (many thanks, D) he said the world reminded him a lot of Final Fantasy VI–a game I had in mind when I wrote the first book. (also my favorite game of all time)
But my buddy also went on to tell me that I still had a bunch of generic Western tropes: take, for example, “gold” was the generic currency I used. I began to see the problem: even though the world had a distinct identity that reminded him of my favorite iteration of Final Fantasy, I was treating it like a generic fantasy adventure. I hadn’t leaned as far into my worldbuilding the first time around (something that’ll definitely be in there on the rewrite).
Think of what defines a certain book or series of books. For Mistborn, it’s the magic system based around metals. For The Wheel of Time, it’s a western fantasy heavily inspired by eastern elements. For This Present Darkness, it’s a fresh, action-oriented take on spiritual warfare. For Left Behind, it’s a reimagining of Calvinist biblical eschatology. Et cetera, et cetera.
When I say Stormlight Archive, what’s the first thing that popped into your head? I’m willing to bet either Knights Radiant or Shardblades/Shardplate (possibly spren). Why do I think that? Because the million-and-one quirks that make up a story end up giving their own cast, their own tone. These things are so characteristic of Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy epic, that, if someone else had Shardblades in their novel, they’d be ripping Sanderson off.
My story had (and still has) a core, concrete identity that was heavily inspired by Final Fantasy. But as I continued writing, I began to use those elements less and less because I was treating it like a generic fantasy adventure. (jeez, I gotta stop using that term. That’s a game, you know: GenFanAd) I never unlocked its full potential, so to speak, because I didn’t keep my vision ever before my eyes.
And now we’re at the root of the problem: If you lose sight of your vision, stop paying attention to it, or get distracted by something else, your writing will begin to fall into a kind of rut. This is especially common with book/book series’ that are just beginning, as they don’t have any kind of concrete identity yet. Much like Final Fantasy itself, which I made a video on that you should totally check out.
The solution? Never lose sight of your vision. Develop it consistently, often, and wherever you can. Don’t go overboard with the worldbuilding, but do everything you can to make sure it stands out as its own entity, seperate from the sea of forgettable, bland GenFanAds. (The game isn’t THAT bad…for a browser game…)
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Plus, I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the Resources tab. It’s full of super helpful material and I promise it will help you out. Until then, writers!