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April 5 Question for IWSG: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?
Since I have nothing to market I opted to skip the question this month and go with full-on insecurity. So lets talk about my writing process, which looks something like this:
- An idea ricochets off of my none-too-stable mind, embeds itself and starts demanding to know, what if? The stupid thing won’t leave me alone, bugging me with scenes (these usually play out like a movie, always useful when waiting in a boring line) snatches of dialogue, tantalizing hints of story arc.
- If it bothers me enough, I start writing it down to make it go away. It’s like an exorcism. Trying to pin it down into some recognizable form, bleeding black onto the white paper and trapped there so it will leave me alone. I research a little, and then a lot. Outline a little, and then a lot. Figure out a tentative ending. The outline I favor breaks the story down into four Acts, small rise-and-fall action in each act building up to the huge rise of the climax and the gentle decent of the epilogue.
- By far the hardest step, turning the outline into a 60,000+ word story. Just finding enough time to sit down every day and crank out a thousand words is a constant challenge.
- After the Sisyphean task of getting all of the words down the beta reading and critiques seem merely Herculean by comparison. Letting go of the ego to take the suggestions as they come requires some doing, sure, but I do it.
- A published book. (This part is merely theoretical so far.) From what I hear, I have several new numbered lists of ways publishing is so much harder than I thought to look forward to writing. Oh goody.
I am a neophyte at this process. It shows in my writing, and I know it. Finding new, exciting, evocative and fresh ways to convey the emotion my characters are feeling is so damn difficult. My second draft is mostly a round of me fixing my crap descriptions and clichéd phrases, diving so deep into the world of a Thesaurus I should be breathing synonyms.
It’s unbelievably frustrating. The idea, the movie scenes in my head are so clear. Sparkling, even. Detailed like you wouldn’t believe. But when I try to write them down . . . nope. It goes a lot like this:
Main character: “I can haz love? You smell great and I loves your pretty face.”
Love interest: “Yes. But not right now, cuz I is mad at you for reasons. You must waits a hundred more pages.”
Kissy smoochy loves ensue. Possible boners ahead. Use caution.
I might be exaggerating a tad. But that’s how it seems to me. Beautiful ideas circle my head refusing to land on the page in my clumsy writing. It’s like getting a lasso around butterflies. And my muse, nasty minx that she is, just dances around with them banging random ideas down on me and laughing. It’s not a nice laugh.
I hold on to the hope that one day after lots of writing and squeezing out words and editing and writing some more the emotion will flow more easily from me and onto the page. Practice has to make me better.
Writers in the know, please reassure me. Lie.
I wouldn’t have thought of the editing as the fun part. But that sounds like a really good way to look at it. Thank you!
I’m not sure if I can offer any words of wisdom. My first draft is always pretty painful, and I’m always sure it’s awful by the time I’m through. I still hope, though I should know better, that I’ll write scintillating prose in that first draft. But what I really love is the editing, and that’s when things get better. I guessed what I’ve learned the most over the years is patience. Patience that I’ll figure out the story and will be able to shape it into what I want eventually. It sounds like you’re on track!
The exorcism comparison totally cracked me up. 🙂
I’ve been at this writing gig a long time, and I believe I’ve improved in the craft. But there’s no real end in sight – I hope to continue growing and improving until The End.
Growing and improving can only be a good thing. I look forward to it! Thanks 🙂
I’ve never heard of WIP standing for What Ideal Plot. Funny. And true.
“It’s like an exorcism.” Yes! It really is. 😛
The more you write and edit it does get smoother. At least it has for me.
That is so encouraging to hear. Thank you!