writing rengeek magpie mind

April 2014

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writing rengeek magpie mind

I lost the comment in the shuffle (this happens a lot; if you comment and don't get answered, chances are I have nothing to say in reply, or I meant to reply, and I forgot--don't take it personally, please) asking what, in particular, my writing process was. And since my agent recently asked me the same thing, I figure it's railroading time.

And the answer is, I don't have one.

No, really.

Usually, I compose on the keyboard, at my desk, but I have a laptop too, and when I take that on trips I write on it. I also write on paper, in notebooks, and transcribe it later. I draw little diagrams and notes and reminders to myself, and sometimes timelines or calenders. Sometimes I use 3x5 cards and sometimes I outline and sometimes I don't, and sometimes I change process mid-book. Twice, (Hammered and Whiskey & Water) I've had to outline the portion of the book I've already written so I could see the structure in my head. Most of Carnival was handwritten first and then transcribed, so the first draft was really three drafts (three, because my first draft is usually about two and a half drafts, as I reread old stuff and tweak it.)

Sometime I signpost ahead--I wrote all the sex scenes in The Stratford Man and all the fight scenes in Scardown ahead of everything else in either book--and sometimes I write completely out of order (Carnival and Blood & Iron having been particularly haphazard in their construction) and sometimes I write the entire book more or less consecutively, start to finish. Sometimes I know the plot--By the Mountain Bound--practically on a scene by scene level, and sometimes I'm completely making it up as I go along (The Sea thy Mistress).

The one thing that's consistent is, if I get stuck, I switch. I change it up. I do something else. If keyboarding isn't working, I hand write. If I can't write at my desk, I go sit on my bed. Or out in the yard. Or on the couch. And if I'm still stuck, I work out. A good brisk walk or an hour of yoga will usually kick something loose in my head.

I have all the bad habits in the world.

If you've ever read in a how-to-write book that you shouldn't do something as a writer, I probably do it. I stop midsentence to research. I write fifteen things at once. I prefer to end my writing day at the end of a scene. I write while I'm online, in between answering emails, with a chat room running in the background for company. I listen to music when I write. Or television. (I had The Muppet Show on today while I was doing the final trip through Whiskey & Water, and most of One-Eyed Jack was written to The Avengers, I Spy, and The Man from UNCLE tapes and DVDs.) I write at random times through the day rather than having a ritual, though lately my rule has been that I start at 9 am and write until I have 1500 words or I have to leave for work around 2, whichever comes first.

But I refuse to fetishize the process, really. I used to write in my high school notebooks when I was supposed to be taking notes (got decent grades, too). I don't see any reason why, if I could do it then, I can't do it now.

A couple of things are constant. By the time I'm a third of the way into the plot, I usually know how the story ends. And it usually takes me longer to write the first third of a book than the remaining two thirds. Because I write a few thousand words and walk away for a while and let it cook, and then I come back and write maybe a hundred pages and walk away and come back later--and then I rearrange everything and put it in a different order, and then I go over it and rewrite chunks, and then I poke at it some more...

...and then I write the rest of the book. But that's more an observed pattern than a process.

Anyway, I hope that helps. *g*

Comments

Here's another hint. *Only* write the good parts. They're the only parts the reader wants to read, anyway....

You know the whole joke about Goldman's The Princess Bride being "the good parts version?"

;-) It's good advice.
LOL true... too true!

*smack on forehead*
if it's not fun/interesting to write, it's probably not fun/interesting to read either. BRILLIANT!!

*bowing down*
you know how sometimes, somebody tells you something JUST the right way?

THANKS. :)
Welcome!
Here's another hint. *Only* write the good parts. They're the only parts the reader wants to read, anyway....

*g*

That is what I tell myself everytime the academic part of me claims 'But they don't have enough contextual knowledge! You *have* to give more details' and the rest of me protests 'Oh no, I'd be bored if I have to explain a culture that stretches back many millennia before I get to the dialogue'. And then the rest points out that if the writer is bored, the reader couldn't possibly be enthralled. The academic part subsides, though it still murmurs in discontent, and all of us get to be lazy. :)

I am mad, btw. :)