Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 17 - 2 Million Women Can't Be Wrong?

There are hundreds of books that tell you how to write a novel. It's like weight loss, every book makes you the promise "It's easy, all you have to do is..." They all lie. It's not easy. It's not going to be easy even if you follow their plan step by step and never falter. It's going to be even harder if you try their plan, like another one better, follow that one for a week and then decide you're better off with what's behind Door 3.

I read and loved 'Novelist's Boot Camp' by Todd A Stone. "It's easy," the book promises you, "all you need is hard work, dedication and lots of planning." I love that kind of honesty. Yes, it's easy, as long as you work hard at it constantly for months. I found the concept of thorough planning seductive. Know what you're going to write and then write it? Sounds awesome!

The problem for me is that I am not an architect, I'm an explorer. I planned out my story in full - and then found that I had lost all urge to write it. What was the point? I had already told myself that story. I wrote it anyway and it is literally the worst writing I have ever done. In contrast, I went back and looked at my Nanowrimo novel from last year. It wasn't going to win a Pulitzer, but it was exciting and readable.

To quote Buddha -
Believe nothing on the faith of traditions, 
even though they have been held in honor
for many generations and in diverse places. 
Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it. 
Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past. 
Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, 
persuading yourself that a God inspires you.
Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests. 
After examination, believe what you yourself have tested 
and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.

Damn right. I have found, after testing, that I write better with no idea of where I'm going with a story. I have a vague idea of what some of the challenges might be, but even then that can change with a sentence. The sudden appearance of the Duke of Wellington has just completely changed where I thought my Regency spy romance novel was going. But for a lot of writers, structure is what sees them through.

So read what writers have to say on how to write a novel, but don't be overawed by high concepts or big names. Believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and write your novel thereto.

Word Count - 1,001

1 comment:

  1. Sound advice. We're all individuals and the key is to find a process that works for you, even if that's not necesarily what's advocated.