The Next Lovecraft


Author of The Scalpel (Feral Space Book 1)
Oct 28, 2008
Leicester, The Las Vegas of the Midlands!
Needless to say, I rather reeled at that moment... I pulled back from the keys of my typewriter (yes, typewriter!), drew a deep breath, and told myself I'd well and truly gone 'round the bend... and then my fingers hit the keys, and the scene flowed... without me having any conscious input into it whatsoever....
That's not crazy, JD. Happens all the time with me. But mentioning the phenomena to non-writers always gets me strained smiles and panicked eyes searching for exits.
May 9, 2006
And I love it. It sounds like a "bad" thing, to not be in control of one's work -- but it is a part of the weird magick that comes from being a writer. It's all flowing out of the same brain and psyche -- sometimes it just doesn't happen as one has planned and plotted.
Exactly. That is part of the creative process... and can apply, by the way, to nonfiction and critical writing as well as to fiction or verse (though only in the original version; everything will necessitate some polishing and revision -- most likely, anyway -- and at that point one is in conscious control... which may be why that part is also one of the dullest parts of the process....)

To tie this in with HPL specifically, this (from his "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction"):

(2) Prepare a secon synopsis or scenario of events -- this one in order of narration (not actual occurrence), with ample fulness and detail, and with notes as to changing perspective, stresses, and climax. Change the original synopsis to fit if such a change will increase the dramatic force or general effectiveness of the story. Interpolate or delete incidents at will -- never being bound by the original conception even if the ultimate result be a tale wholly different from that first planned. Let additions and alterations be made whenever suggested by anything in the formulating process.

(3) Write out the story -- rapidly, fluently, and not too critically -- following the second or narrative-order synopsis. Change incidents and plot whenever the developing process seems to suggest such change, never being bound by any previous design. If the development suddenly reveals new opportunities for dramatic effect or vivid storytelling, add whatever is thought advantageous -- going back and reconciling the early parts to the new plan. Insert and delete whole sections if necessary or desirable, trying different beginnings and endings until the best arrangement is found. But be sure that all references throughout the story are thoroughly reconciled with the final design. Remove all possible superfluities -- words, sentences, paragraphs, or whole episodes or elements -- observing the usual precautions about the reconciling of all references.
There are, of course, other steps he goes into, but I think these are partcularly important because they give a good idea of why, for example, Lovecraft's writing still makes such a vivid impression where that of so many of his contemporaries (especially from the pulps) does not: he was never bound by any plan, but let his artistic instincts guide him throughout the process, sometimes requiring numerous versions of a tale (and certainly, if one looks at his manuscripts, requiring an enormous amount of interlineation, alteration of phrasing, elimination, refinement, etc.) as he was led by what seemed the most powerful emotional and imaginative ideas connected to the central conception of the tale.

And, as Wilum says, that is one of the aspects of writing which is the most fun and enjoyable: being surprised by the work yourself, at which time it really does take on a life of its own....

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