Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Only Forward (redux)

The terror of the blank page, of wondering what comes after the next paragraph, the next sentence, is eliminated by writing something down. Even if it's the wrong sentence, the wrong paragraph. The trick is to keep moving. To get to the end of the first draft without looking back. All the bad stuff can be fixed, or eliminated. It isn't a waste of time. It contrasts with the good stuff - the stuff you got right. It shows you where you made all the easy and obvious decisions. If you finish a first draft and can't find much to cut, you're usually in trouble.

Some writers plan everything out. They know where they are going. They write a chapter, and the next, and the next, and at the end they more or less have the book they expected to get. I start with notes about characters and settings, not much else. A few high points. Some key scenes. The rough shape of the thing. The place where it begins; the place where it ends. I write to discover what it is I'm writing. I write to surprise myself. It can be wasteful. It can involve false starts and dead ends. But sometimes you only find the right direction after trying all the others first.

2 Comments:

Blogger Wm. Luke Everest said...

I've found this comment extremely helpful, and I must say I totally agree.

Scene by scene, I find imagining the reader's feelings/experience a useful guide, but that said, not every story wants to write itself. And as for writing whatever paragraph of description or fitting in whatever metaphor to a sentence, it's a very freeing attitude.

It's like ripping yourself from the sofa for bed: it takes far more energy to sit there agonising than to just do (or write) the flippin' thing.

June 01, 2012 9:02 AM  
Blogger Wayne Blackhurst said...

Stikes a chord with me!

June 01, 2012 11:55 AM  

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