To Think, perchance, To Dream...

I started and didn't finish reading a book called "Fondling Your Muse" by John Warner.  It's a sendup of all the writer's self-help manuals that are out there.  The sarcasm is amusing at first, but to carry it through a whole book gets kind of old real fast.   Regardless, one of the bits of advice there was to not write.  Of course he was being sarcastic.  Wasn't he?

After I used that book to hold up the other end of my bed (it's a hard cover, nice and sturdy), I picked up another book I had called "Your Novel in a Year" by Louise Dougherty.  In between her crowing about how well her column was in the Telegram, there's some bits of writing advice.  The first few exercises or so in the book are to get you thinking about writing.  There's the usual advice: Carry a notebook, write everything down, describe your socks...but the advice that I'm trying to follow for the moment is that thinking about writing is just as important as doing the writing. 

Of course, you don't feel as fulfilled unless you see something on a page.  With me, unless there is a complete scene, fully formed, it's not writing.  I'm trying to get away from that.  I'm trying to get to the point where any writing is good writing, even if most of it is here on Protagz, in folders on my hard drive, or on index cards (I looooooooove index cards).

I'm using writing prompts (more about that in another post), scenes that I see in daily life, things that I imagine are happening.  Even if they're bits and pieces, those little bits and pieces add up.

Another thing "Your Novel In A Year" suggests is that you don't bother trying to write the novel from beginning to end - you write scenes that may or may not fit.  So what you're doing, is creating jigsaw puzzles.  Like:

Before this scene, this could happen.


After this scene, this might happen.

This is where index cards are a life saver.  Or even just pieces of notepad paper/files from your computer, with an index card to summarize each one.  You take each index card - each "beat" - and put them in any order you like.  Don't like grandma being on the boat?  Have her get thrown off.  (They did it in Mad Men.)

If you think about the writing, a scene may come out fully formed, with a blurry vision of what's before and after.  And then another scene.  And another scene...soon you'll have enough bits to make a coherent story - plus some.

The End

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