Greetings and Happy New Year.
The other day I happened to see a clip from Mel Brooks when he received the Kennedy Center award a few years ago. There was a musical tribute to many of the songs he’s written. One line goes “Hope for the best. Expect the worst.” So naturally that got me thinking.
When I write, I have the very best of intentions. Some people may plot the story out step by step. Others may get started with a glimmer of an idea and just run with it. But like Brooks says, you hope for the best. But you should also expect the worst.
What happens when I write my characters into a corner? Do I give up? Do I wait for divine intervention? I won't take the path that one writer has done frequently, and write himself into the story to miraculously save his troubled characters. That’s not creativity. It’s laziness.
For me, the uncertainty is part of it. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. When my characters seem to be out of ideas, it’s up to me to give them a nudge. I’ll bat ideas around and try ‘what if’ until something clicks in. Often one idea will trigger another. So when it comes to writing, that’s the approach I've had the most success with.
Hope for the best, but expect the worst.
Or at the very least, have a back-up plan.