I’m getting to be quite a dab hand at this chain lark.
This month’s topic is thrilling. John, we laud, applaud, and likewise admire.
And here it is:
“What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started writing?”
And all the other lovely people are playing this month as well, so if you were looking for the skedder without the slog of reading my whole post, here it is:
5th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/ – Lovely, lovely Unikke.
7th – https://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/ – You are here.
8th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/ – An old hand at this game.
9th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/ – First chain, be nice.
12th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/ – Erin!!!
17th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/ – Liam!!!
18th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/ – New?
21st – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/ – Emily!!!
22nd – http://roomble.wordpress.com/ – New?
23rd – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/ – Probably not new.
24th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for August’s blog chain will be announced. We hope.
So. Into the valley of death.
One thing? Only one? Now c’mon, that’s cruel, it really is. Hang on. Double-checked the whole prompt post. Yarrah! We are unlimited! Reminds me of the home-décor company I heard of once: wanted to call themselves Creativity and be a limited liability company. Creativity Ltd? Not good.
(I gotta stop listening to music when I’m writing, this guy’s singing voice is everything I’d ever expected and then some and I’m hyperventilating at the sheer wonderfulness of it all. Go on, listen, it’s only forty-odd seconds.)
Okay. Thing one: I wish I had known that you don’t have to write things other people will necessarily like. I wasted four years (starting from age eleven – I was desperately corny back then) trying to write Enid Blyton-type stories and hating every second of it, but knowing I was meant to write and write and write until my fingers fell off. The penny didn’t drop until I was fifteen and thought up this really, really weird little stunt with a time machine. And I thought, I love this! And I thought, I have never seen anything like this in the stores, this must be because it’s a lousy idea. And I wrote it anyway. And I loved writing it. (Admittedly now I loathe that story, but hey.) Oscar Wilde put it best:
I don’t write for cliques. I write for myself.
Because I figure if you’re writing what you love, that’s one person who likes it, and maybe you’ll run across people as crazy as you who’ll love it too.
Thing two: Plan. Plan, plan, plan. Know at the beginning of the story where you’re going, and go there. Take a deviation and a side route where you find them, but start with a plan. Nobody ever told me this until Andrew Pudewa’s writing course (curse his little toothbrush moustache) made me plan every essay I wrote. And I realized it was so much easier. That said, the plan for my current story looks like this:
Gree Yarzakawula: Rattatakian.
Foreyata Ferens: Kiffar.
Halwaro Calaver: Barabel.
Corioli Rhindon: H’Vong. (In the actual plan this name’s heavily circled, not bold.)
Order of dealing: Set, plan, drop, stay, call, find&flip, Gree etc ->. END THERE.
So my so-called plans are incomprehensible to anyone but me, and they’re really just lists of what order I mean to write out my mental-movies scenes in, and they’re fluid as hot oil; so what? It works for me.
Thing three: Don’t fall in love with characters you will have to kill. It will drive you crazy. Or at least know when you create them that you will kill this one. Basically create it specifically to provide a good death scene and don’t get engaged with it like you do the others.
Thing four: If you couldn’t give a flying kriff about a character, nobody else can either. Which means that to give the reader that satisfying gut-wrench at a death, you have to love the character as well. Which contravenes Thing three, but that’s one of the little paradoxes that make writing a fickle and loveable mistress.
Thing five: If you are writing a historical novel, or anything set in any world you did not build from the core up entirely yourself, in God’s name do your research! This will save many cringes along the line as you reread that gosh-awful Victorian mystery you wrote at fourteen – with the blatant anachronism a ten-year-old spotted, if you please! – or the truly terrible fanfic where you got everybody’s ages wrong.
I think I’m talking way too much here, but you know what? You’ve got the schedule, so if you’ve read down to here either you’re bored or you like what I’ve got to say.
Thing six: Get it checked. Not by your mother the English teacher. She will pick up your modern grammar and punctuation and your American spelling, which a good word-processor program does anyway until you tell it to get knotted, you like American spelling (America rocks. I’ve never been there in my life but I want to). Get it checked by the friend who shares the fandom and spots instances of OOC syndrome (bow, Erin!) by the brother who notices the mis-aligned plot points (Ding), or the cousin who thinks everything you write is super, but what about this thing over here? (Mel). Basically? By someone of your generation, if it’s your generation you’re writing for. If you’re writing for adults, well, I weep for you, said the Walrus, I deeply sympathize. You are sunk. They hate the idea we might be as good as them. But get an adult to check your work anyway.
Thing seven: Do not read Oscar Wilde when you are trying to write in a modern voice. Do not read John Grisham when you are trying to write a fairytale. Liam identified this as The Talking Worm. It is a real thing. It is a pain in the butt but it has the benefit that if you do read Wilde, you will write in his voice automatically. And oh, it’s a beautiful voice. Nearly as lovely as you-know-whose with the link above. (Rosalie pauses to breathe into a paper bag again.) Whew. Y’know, Erin, you had a point about Ae’enn Narshala being able to sing well. Oh my stars. Does he heaven.
This is called a diversion, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.
About the Talking Worm. I wrote a whole story a la Conan Doyle once and then discovered my mistake a week later. Pontificatory style from him is acceptable because he was a genius. From me it comes across arrogant. I had to redo the whole thing.
And since seven is the number of completion – one of ’em, anyway, and I can’t face going up to twelve which is the next and I don’t think you could either – and Ding wants to watch Tora, Tora, Tora without me clattering keys and disturbing him, I had better stop. Thank you for your patience.