Scott D. Parker
This was a great week for writing advice.
First up was the latest episode of Rocking Self Publishing, one of the essential podcasts if you want to learn what's going in the world of independent publishing. Host Simon Whistler interviewed author Jacqueline Garlick. Over the course of the hourlong discussion, two things emerged.
One was her increase in writing speed. She took inspiration from Chris Fox’s 21-day novel challenge. She attempted the fear and ended up with a first draft in about 15 days. She knew the manuscript would be reworked over subsequent drafts, but getting the story out of her head in a short amount of time was eye opening. She ended up completing 10 manuscripts in various genres last year.
Impressive. Most impressive.
Ever a student of the writing process, Garlick attended multiple conferences and met lots of other writers. She also taught writing. After sifting through all of this information, she conceived the idea of a plot laid out on a clock. The opening is up to 3pm, the middle is from 3 to 9 (with the midpoint naturally at 6pm), the climax from 9 to 11, and the final denouement from 11 to 12. It’s a neat way to visualize a story that was new to me.
If Garlick’s interview solidified some of my own thinking regarding writing pace, then an article Joe Lansdale write really drove home some key points in the writing process. Published in The Strand, Joe’s “The Rules of Being a Professional Writer” proved to be quite the peek behind the curtain. The obvious rule of reading a lot and writing a lot is again reiterated for the thousandth time. It's in the rest of the guidelines that true sneaks out.
Again, an obvious one: be excited about what you write. If you're not dying to get to the next scene, neither will your readers. Keep your day job until you know you can make it as a writer. That one hits home with me, a day job holder who writes at 4:30 am.
The second circular analogy about writing came from this article. Lansdale writes thus: “I don’t plot, at least not consciously. I go to bed, and my subconscious works on it. When I awake, the work is there, and when I finish for the day, I know from experience my subconscious will fill me up with the next day’s work. Now and again it lets me down, but that is rare. For me, working this way, I get to enjoy the creation of a story from soup to nuts, and the passion that goes with it. Some writers need a road map, some a compass. I’m the latter.”
This year, to date, I have not plotted out the two novels I’ve worked on. That's new for me...and fun! I have a general idea of the ending, but I’ve been experiencing the story alongside my main character. Sure, there may be a moment when I know that my hero is going to discover something, but more often than not, my creative voice just landed something on the story I didn’t see coming. My hero is surprised. I just have a big goofy grin on my face and marvel at how great it is to be a writer.
Lansdale's piece just landed itself on my all-time best writing advice list.
Here are the two links. Enjoy and learn.