Some people were curious on how I go about writing books. So I decided to write a series on it. I realize there’s a billion other great published writers/agents who have excellent advice. I figured I’d throw in my 2 yen into the pot as well.
Your standard warnings apply: I know its different for every writer and my way may not work for you, Your Mileage May Vary, cup ‘o coffee is very hot, long post is long. Alrighty! We settled? Got your snack? Lets start this!
It all begins with me waking up (usually) in the middle of the night to drag myself down at the computer and write as fast as I can a possible idea of a story. Although sometimes I whip out my pad and paper wherever I am and write it down: in the grocery store, at the bus stop, in the middle of class. I have a shit-tastic memory and the story would have no chance to ferment and grow without me sticking it to paper to read later. Every single idea I write down for a brief moment I think is awesome. When I look back at what I wrote for an idea later, sometimes I have to ask myself if I was tripping on acid to think that was a great idea. I digress, the point here is to get to the ideas that make my writerly toes curl with pure juiciness.
JUICINESS, I tell you!
An idea that makes me want to go straight to the keyboard and pump out 20K wordage and blow out my wrists at the pure JUICINESS of this idea. But, no, dear readers: I must steel myself from the desire to write without research as it means I’ll run out of ideas, make a mess of word count that will most likely be inaccurate and most importantly run out of fuel. My dear readers: I let my idea ferment and cultivate.
CULTIVATE and GROW, my pretty idea!
This is the point of no return for me, I make a decision whither or not this idea is JUICY enough and makes me burn with a passion to spend a huge chunk of my time researching, writing, revising.
If my story involves zombies then I go read/watch/listen to everything I can about zombies. The point is that I go and read up on the people who’ve foraged the path before me and who are quite knowledgeable on this topic.
RESEARCH, my dear aspiring novelists!
A week won’t cut it. I can spend anywhere (depending on how much I know about the topic first) between 2-7 months researching the kinds of things that will appear in my novel. Not only am I consuming materials but actively thinking about who my protagonist and antagonists are going to be and the types of issues I will be writing about. I love the research phase!
For some people it means printing out large amounts of materials to sift through and coloring in maps of the world. Personally, I get too caught up in this process of drawing maps to the point that I will never get around to writing the book: I will over think the book to death which I have done before. For me, finding the balance and recognizing when one is distracting oneself from writing the book by doing stuff that won’t end up in the book is a problem. Maps are nice but in my opinion they are tools to help you write not the magical tool that will write the words for you. Don’t get too obsessed unless you know that this is the way you work.
Depending on the way you work (Your Mileage May Vary) you can jump straight into the outline or pen out an idea of where you’d like to start or end. Don’t know your antagonist’s name yet? Thats fine, its only the 1st draft. Things don’t come out perfect on the first go at it.
Then, my readers, its time to sit down and write the damn novel.
Look out for next week’s post on writing habits followed by the step by step process of writing, editing and finishing the damn novel.