Friday, 1 March 2013

The Half-Empty vew of Writing Fiction

Advice from a famous writer: Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish the wretched novel. Forget about the 3 or 400 pages you hope to write and write just one page each day. Then when you get to the 400th page, you are always surprised.

 Write as quickly as you can. Don't stop to correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Re-writing is usually an excuse for not continuing and interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

 Don't think of your readers. Their nameless faces will scare you to death and they don't really exist. Write to one reader—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. It sometimes helps.

 If a scene is troublesome and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole book you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn't belong there. On the other hand, the scene that becomes precious will usually be the one that is discarded.
Speak dialogue as you write it - only then will it sound true.
The writer was convinced there was magic in story writing, and also convinced no one had ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. "The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story."
Who was this famous author? I'll write it backwards and  in tiny print so it doesn't leap out and spoil your fun. kcebniets nhoj




Dean Crawford said...

It's good advice from the great man, Jen. I'll stick my neck out and say it can be distilled to a single recipe though, which can be described with a single word: passion. If an author is hugely excited to get the words down on the page, then somehow that passion makes it into the prose and narrative and dialogue. Without it, even a great story can turn out lame.

Jen Black said...

When I start the day I read over what I did yesterday and must admit there is a temptation to tinker...I'll try and resist!

Ursula Thompson said...

This is some good advice. And that's exactly my problem - I never stop 'tinkering'.