beautiful thing

Beautiful Thing

I’ll take it a step further. If your goal as a writer is to get it right the first time, you’re probably holding yourself back.

I’m reminded of an article I read about the writing of The Cabin in the Woods shortly after the film came out. I tried to find the article again, but no dice. There are a lot of articles and interviews about Goddard and Whedon’s writing process. That’s because these two locked themselves in a hotel room and did nothing but write, sleep and eat for three days to produce the manuscript for the movie.

Personally, I loved the movie. I would argue that it’s not horror, but an elaborate essay on the value of the horror genre with heavy doses of love letter mixed in. In fact, I have argued that, but that’s not my point today.

In talking about the writing process, one of the things Whedon mentioned in the unfound interview was this: given their crazy-short timeline, they didn’t allow themselves the luxury of shelving weird ideas to come back to them later. When they thought of something to include in the story, in it went. Period.

Normally, when writers think of something risky we shy away from it. We consider it, mulling over inclusion for days, weeks or months. Goddard and Whedon removed that self-editing from the writing process. The result was an unconventional but brilliant film.

But if you believe you need to get everything right the first time, you’ll never take those kinds of risks.

Cabin could have been a huge flop. Many people didn’t like it. They wanted horror, and the movie doesn’t really make the cut as a fright flick. In some ways, I guess is was a flop. But as a fantasy/horror writer, I think it was amazing, and I suspect that’s due largely to the way they went about writing it. They just let the story take them. They were more concerned with getting the story on paper than getting it right.

That’s the way to do it.

Get your stories on paper. Don’t fret over perfection. Certainly not in the first draft. If you the plot takes some bizarre turn, roll with it. Let it happen. Get out of your muse’s way. If something needs to be ‘fixed’, you can do that in subsequent drafts.

On the first pass, never seek perfection. You’ll butcher the life right out of your fiction if you do.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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