This one’s not a how-to; this one’s a request for help. Have you ever put down something you blocked hard on, only to pick it up months or years later, and go “Oh! That’s where it went wrong! …well, and there, too. And I could have done that better. And that’s not quite right… I should explore this bit of worldbuilding, and flesh that out…”
If so, how do you decide when to edit, when to rewrite, and when to rip the characters out and start anew?
I tend to write faster than some, slower than some. This isn’t really good or bad, except that in the indie market, quantity helps increase (sales) quality. I wrote 93K words on a novel between July 4 and August 8, with a few days off due to Life. As well as writing most of four short stories, plus blogging.
That’s not a brag, just a statement. My schedule gives me three months (mostly) off, and so I made the best of my time. Most people don’t have that luxury. Plus, as I said above, I can write very quickly when the story moves me.
This isn’t always good. Read more
Traces of a slower time: The horse railroad between Linz and Budweis. (Author Photo)
It’s the middle of a battle scene. The hero is pinned down, comm relay out of order, in desperate need of backup, a plan, and chewing gum (not necessarily in that order). The smell of burning plastics, choking and thick, fills the air and—
Cut to a flashback from childhood of grandpa and the burn pit, and what it smelled like when Older Brother put something with plastic-coated wires in the garbage, and how grandpa reacted, and grandma laughing about boys will be boys and…
Yeah. Story fail.
“But it’s important!” Cries Jane Q Writer. “That’s the foreshadowing that hints that the Big Bad is the hero’s long lost older brother!”
The reader, who has already set the book down (or tossed it against the wall), picks up a different book and wanders away. Read more
I consider David Drake largely responsible for my ambition to write. As an enthusiast of history, I am impressed by where he finds inspiration for his novels- from the annals of human events. We need not try to conjure up something incredible purely off our own inspiration and energies. Great men and women have performed such deeds as stand paramount in recorded existence.
That phrase occurred in a passage Amanda quoted in her Tuesday column, and it… so to speak… caught my imagination. Because that’s not how my imagination – or Amanda’s, to judge from her comments – works. Ha! Imagination should only be so polite as to present itself in long, leisurely segments that fit my typing speed! It tends more to arrive with the speed and finesse of a runaway train!
A long time ago Diana Gabaldon told me something about her writing process that exactly described my own (Yeah, I know, too bad my results aren’t as wildly successful as hers). I’ll try to paraphrase from memory: Read more
Before I get to what’s useful for writing, I’d just like to ask the world to spin just a little slower. I could use a couple more hours in each day. I have projects to finish. The car need an oil change, as (probably) does the Valkyrie. And Mrs. Dave’s Jeep. The bedframes are coming together (hehe), but some of the boards need another shot with the sander, and then some stuff needs gluing and screwing (fun, but not fun-fun), and then staining, and I’ll need to acquire some plywood to support the new mattresses. I can almost taste the greater organization of having a clean laundry-room-slash-office. Read more
So I am trying to get back on the (writing) horse again. Like falling off the real thing, there is considerable wisdom in the advice about getting back on immediately. Still, this is the first break I’ve taken for 10 years (the last one was 3 weeks to emigrate) and it was 17 years before that. I’ve not taken a ‘work-free’ holiday in that time. Slowed down, worked on editing, proofing, research, taken a day off, yes. But longer, no.
I had dramas getting paid for my last book (just trad Pub working at normal speed – only a drama from my point of view). It was money I was relying on for the house-building and moving, which – today, it seems are finally resolved. Three months late but, I suppose, better than never. Still, it hasn’t helped that get back on the horse process. Defensive memory makes it hard to remember which end produces dung and which end bites. I think I am supposed to be in the middle between them, but I may be facing the wrong way. Read more