Friday, September 08, 2006

Advice and Such

I was cruising around the web (I know, you're supposed to say surfing) and I came across some advice on how to write a novel. It amazed me. Here were well-known published authors giving away wonderful advice. Actually, as Jay Lake said so well, it's not advice, it's experience. And I thought it was interesting to read the different takes on writing novels. Justine Larbalestier has her advice here, and Elizabeth Bear (how cool can you get?) has advice here.

Apparently, it all boils down to coffee, determination to see it through, and a system for organizing plots and thoughts. The coffee and determination are the same, give or take a little milk & sugar, but the systems for organizing plots and thoughts differ widely. One writer's outline is another writer's poison. (or writer's block, as the case may be!) So what does that say about your own writing?

Mine varies; I use outlines or not (right now I'm working on three books. One from an outline, one from a detailed synopsis, and one from a one sentence blurb.) I have never used charts or cards, if I have an outline I never use it as a rigid structure, but rather as a suggestion of how the book should flow, and if I work from a detailed synopsis, you can be sure the whole thing will change until the finished work has little to do with the synopsis at the beginning, lol.
What helps me most is a time frame (I think it's because of my dyslexia) and a map is always a plus; I love devising a map for my books. But time sometimes gets loopy and I have to be careful not to have overlapping actions. Character descriptions don't worry me. I picture the hero and heroine so clearly it's like their photos are in front of me. But I will write Dave in one page and Don on the next, so I'm always checking to make sure Dave doesn't become Don. (right now I have a Kyla, and I have to make sure She doesn't become a He.

I'd like to say that I write fast, but I don't. I have revision-itis. I have to go back and re-read everything and revise what I've written before plowing on, so I do a lot of reading. On the plus side, I figure if I don't get bored reading the darn thing over and over, hopefully my readers will stay enthralled, lol.
One way to make a book go faster is to cure yourself of revision-itis and just leap into writing. I do that once a year in November when I join the NanoWrimo, a really fun way to write a novel in a month! (or at least 50,000 words)
How do you get motivated and what systems help you the most??


doug hoffman said...

Sheer stubbornness.

Also, curiosity. With the romance I just finished, I didn't know how my hero would decide his main conflict, and I didn't know how the H&H would manage to get back together. Yup, very little plan for this one, a real seat-of-the-pants operation, but it seemed to work out okay. Anyway, that curiosity kept me going.

I think the bottom line is: you really need to WANT to finish, and that desire has to be strong enough to trump all other concerns.

Sam said...

I do think there is a certain bulldog mentality of grabbing something and not letting go. It's easy to start a story - hard to finish it. It does take a streak of stubbornness, lol.

Gabriele C. said...

I have revisionitis, too. And too many plotbunnies.

I have a finished MA thesis, though. What helped me with that? The bloody damn deadline. :)

Wrod verification: mrwuf
The sound a dogcat or catdog makes?

Amra Pajalic said...

So true about one person's advice being another person's writer's block. My biggest motivation is my blog and that little progress bar on it. Nothing like publicly proclaiming your progress to get you moving.