Monday, June 10, 2013

A Few Minor Writing Points

(This sort of post is likely only relevant to me, as a form of journal entry that I can refer back to later.  But anyone out there who still follows this blog is certainly welcome to find whatever entertainment value in it that they can!)

As I get ready to start the 2nd chapter of novel # 4 (once I've finished here), I've come to recognize certain patterns in the way I write.  I may have mentioned some or all of these before, but at least now they'll be collected in one place.

For instance, I've learned how to tell a good story idea from a substandard one.  When I'm trying to come up with the next plot point, the best ones always feel as if I'm remembering them, rather than making them up.  It's like that feeling you get when you're struggling to recall the details of something - maybe a conversation you had, or a memory from many years ago - and suddenly it clicks into place and you know with certainty that you've recalled it correctly.  That's what I've found to happen with the best parts of my novels so far.  And it's a great barometer for me to use in evaluating each new idea that comes along.

Also, I think I now understand why the writing always goes so much faster toward the end of the book.  I'd always assumed it was because each of the various subplots had been set in motion by then and all that remained was to resolve them.  I imagine that's part of it, but there's also an element of knowing the characters so well by that point that they practically write themselves.  As a corollary of that, things tend to go slowly in the early stages because I'm not entirely sure which direction some of the characters are going to advance in just yet, and that makes the process harder.

And finally, I've had a revelation about my work ethic when it comes to writing.  I've suffered from a lot of frustration over the past several years because I haven't been as disciplined as I'd like about actually sitting down and writing.  I've gotten very down on myself about this, at times.  However, I think I may have been selling myself short in that regard.  A lot of the time I spend not-writing, especially when I'm not engaged in some other activity, is actually devoted to figuring out what happens next, or what motivates this character or that one, or what the best structure is to use for that next revelation.  In other words, I'm writing a hell of a lot more often than I'd ever given myself credit for.  It's simply happening in my head, rather than on the keyboard.  Vicki and I have started referring to that as "percolation time" while working on this current book, meaning the periods during which all of the various ideas are percolating around in my brain before they're fully formed enough to be written down.  Julie had pointed out something similar on an earlier book project, but I hadn't appreciated just how significant that part of the process was at the time.  Now that I do, it feels like a large, guilty weight has been lifted from me.

Anyway, now it's time to go do some of the type-type-type writing, as Chapter 2 feels ready to go!

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