I thought about making this a throwaway in the random romps thread, but I've also been thinking about starting a "let's kickstart some stories/revise some shit/be writers again" thread. The time is now.
Let's talk about writing, post funny stuff/kicks in the butt/etc., and see where it takes us.
It's not too much of a stretch to say that this meme was the impetus for my decision to come out more publicly as a writer, and incidentally to launch this website. It took longer than I expected, :/
This thread is for sharing stuff that makes you want to do your thing, makes you laugh about doing your thing, or gets you through the dark days when you don't think you'll ever do your thing.
I comfort myself with this (http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2010/12/the-common-scaffold.html) when I'm melting down over how I'm going to have to cut my past 8 hours of work! IT'S SCAFFOLDING, NOT A WASTE; YOU'RE FINE.
For example, at the macro level I see many novels where the real story doesn't start till Chapter 4: Chs 1-3 are all just trundling towards the starting grid. And then there's the cry that your research is showing; historical or geographical facts are deliciously seductive to the writer, and it's by making the detail believable that we get the reader to suspend their disbelief in the story. But we're storytelling, not writing a gazeteer or a history book, and anything that doesn't serve the story is weakening it.
... So don't beat yourself up. Ch1-3 are all backstory that you needed to work out: they're process writing, not a failure or mistake, and now they've achieved their purpose and can be cut.
... Instead of regarding such things as mistakes, maybe we should see them as a dressmaker's tacking stitches; the wooden scaffolding over which the arches of the bridge are formed; the paper collar round the soufflé dish that you take off once the gelatine has set. They're part of the fundamental nature and process of creating that thing.
That blog in general has been very useful and reassuring for me as I go along.
How to finish the novel you've been putting off.
Figure out what kind of writer you are. Some writers need to understand every detail of the story before they even sit down to start writing it. Some just think of a plot and characters. Some need the base story arc. Others do not plan the story at all and let the story shape itself as they write it.
"There is no good way, no bad way, it just depends on how you are built. I know writers who know nothing about the book until they sit down to write it. For them, writing is exploring. I know people who need to work it out in excruciating detail -- for example, John Irving. John Irving says that he does not start the book until he knows the last line of the book," said Schroeder.
This bit particularly resonates:
"Every writer has a little medicine bag," said Schroeder. "Nobody knew what was in it. If you opened it up and showed it to people, they would understand the significance of it. But it was for you, it was magic."
What'd you start with for your book, raven? :)
A hat. A Victorian lady's riding hat. Sort of like this, but red.
The Writer's Mary Sue Test for your characters (http://katfeete.net/writing/sue.php)
I'm surprised my main female character scores as well on this test as she does, given the genre, mutants/possible new subspecies aspect of it, and the cultural clashes that are a main aspect of the setting.
nicky is only a little like you. She is not at all cool; in fact, she thinks cool is a temperature reading, and when she says "Oh, I just put on whatever old thing's lying around," she means "on the floor, where I threw it last night - but I turned the underwear inside out first." She may have sometimes thought that she was special, or destined for greater things, but probably dismissed the idea as a fantasy. She's got no emotional scars to speak of. And she's gotten no slack from you.
In general, you care deeply about nicky, but you're smart enough to let her stand on her own, without burdening her with your personal fantasies or propping her up with idealization and over-dramatization. nicky is a healthy character with a promising career ahead of her.
Mirror, Mirror: I Love Her, I Let Her Go 7
Beware the Monks of Cool: She's The Anti-Cool 3
'Tis Your Destiny: I'm Destined For What? 5
Oh, the Trauma: Healthy as a Horse 2
Momma Loves Me Best: Momma HATES Her! 0
The score for my main male character is comparable. 295 possible points. They scored 17 and 20 respectively.
lol this test
She regularly wears (check all that apply): ... Leather
Yes, brown loose leather because she lives in a forest!
He regularly wears (check all that apply): ... Weapons.
He is in the army.
14 for my female main, 22 for the older male, 23 for the younger. And yeah, the ones related to destiny got me on all of them, because magic is a standard part of the setting and the like.
"Isn't it funny how characters develop.
One of my characters was created simply because he owned a tractor and some chickens.
Now he's declaring war and killing people!"
- a writer I met on facebook
Ursula K. Le Guin's Call to Action for Authors
While accepting the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, celebrated science fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin urges authors to remember why they do what they do. Her argument that writing is an art form rather than a commodity is inspiring and one any avid reader must watch!
also this blog entry:
put in your tired, hackneyed word or phrase and get back a list of bright, shiny alternatives.
I looked up "hackneyed" and the list of alternatives contains "shop-worn". I think I'll use that one!