That there are many classic must-read books that I just have never read:
Catcher in the Rye,
and so on.
(Image courtesy of koratmember FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
To become a better writer one must always read. And I’m an avid reader, so why haven’t I read this classics that people always talk about? For one, everyone always talks about them so it’s not like I don’t know what’s going to happen in it and two, some of the truly older classics are so long-winded and boring that it’s hard to get through the book to harvest the great story. I really don’t want to have a whole chapter were all the author is don’t is explaining the setting. If the characters aren’t around to help break up the expository, why read it?
Yet I have read/scene most of Shakespeare’s work, loved some of the ancient philosophical texts, and an always interested in great pieces of writing no matter when it was written. Someone recently recommended a book by Georgette Heyer Frederica. The style was definitely different and the pace slower but it was a delight to read something that wasn’t the same old books that seem to follow out into the market today. Georgette Heyer though new to me started writing in 1921 and ended up writing over 50 novels and her first one has yet to go out of print.
So it’s not as though I’m against older books but the modern audience don’t want huge over loaded passages without paragraphs and over the top length descriptions of places (well, I don’t know about you but I don’t).
Is there any “classic” books that you absolutely loved but no one else has read?
To hunt of a new author (well new to me at least),
I recently had a friend ask me how I structure my novel and how I keep the details of my characters in order.
So here’s a bit of my writing process:
When I first started to write novels it was a hard thing to figure out just how to structure my story, should I write with a fill in the blank structure or fly by the seat of my pants. Well, I’ve done it both ways. First, I didn’t want to be constrained by outlines (AKA a pantser) so I just wrote; no plan on what was going to pop up all I wanted was the words onto the page. I didn’t want to impede my ‘natural creative brain.’
After over 100 pages I realized that I need to have structure so went to the opposite extreme, where I scripted the entire thing. I build a meticulous outline detailing all the major scenes and the conflicts within it. Yet that was too much restraint on my creative
process. So now I have a calendar of how long my book is going to take in character time (days/weeks/months) and I write down major scenes that I have mapped out with no idea how to move the character from one event to the other so I allow that to flow out of my actually writing style.
Well what about characters, how much must I know about their background before I start? When I first get an idea for a novel, I normally see the beginning scene in my head and see a few of the character’s personality traits but for me they grow and evolve as I ‘meet’ the character. As I write I normally know my destination but never exactly how I shall get there. I have a software called Snowflake written my a writer who is also a scientist that I fill in about the characters & their background as I go along so I can keep all the details like their physical descriptions straight but that’s normally after I’ve made it a good hunk of the way through my first draft. While writing the draft now I’ll leave myself a comment about quirks, nicknames they call each other, or hair color so later I don’t have to hunt as hard.
So I guess I kind of write with a rough cage of what I want but allowing me the most amount of freedom to let the story develop in fun and surprising ways. The only thing I know for sure is that for me how I write is in flux and I have to find fight a delicate balance between too much structure, where I stifle myself, & too lax, where my story falls apart because I don’t know exactly where I’m headed.
So I guess the only conclusion about how to write and structure it, is that nothing is wrong as long as you keep getting words on the page because at the end of the day that’s what really matters.
It’s funny when your tank and creativity is dry and you feel like the most unoriginal writer in the world, when you receive a kind word from a random person. That one drop is like water to parched land; I feel better and it gives me the fortitude to continue the work.
Without these tiny nudges to remind me that I doing what I’m meant to do, I doubt I could go on. So I thank all of those who read my early work, read by blog, or just random people who I meet and when I tell them, “I’m a writer,” they aren’t dismissive but instead are genuinely excited that they know someone who is blazing a path to capture their dreams. I don’t know where I’d be without all of your love and support; I’m more grateful than mere words could express, which is a great concession to someone who adores words, but my hope is that I am able to support you to in return.
A week off and no writing, can I still call myself a writer? I’ve opened the document and stared at it but no actually words flowed onto the page, so again am I a writer? Must I always be in the mists of writing something? But the I think the better question is this, why do I believe that I must be adding words to the page everyday to considered a writer?
I think it’s my own fear that I will let time slip away from me and not complete the manuscript. How many times have I spoken to someone who claims to be a writer but has never completed anything? They play at being a writer and like to strut around shouting to the world their story arcs, tragic characters, and the such and I don’t want to be them. I want to create and complete the story. I don’t want to be full of talk and no action.
Well, that settles it; yep, I’m still a writer. My own insecurities were getting the better of me. Now that I figured that out maybe I should do a little writing?
Is it just me that the thought of eight books coming out in six months is crazy? I mean even Nora Roberts said she can crank out an entire book in 45 days. So that’s a today of eight books in a year not six months.
Yet despite the numbers there are a few authors that are churing out double that amount, how are they doing it? Co-authoring. That’s right. Now there is a difference between co-authoring and ghost writing but this one seems like it’s skirting the line.
I’m not against a good paring of authors to pen a book but when you mix one best seller with a fairly new name and the style seems no where near the best seller’s work, who’s work is it really? Is this a good thing for the non large font author? Yes and no.
Yes, because this brings the authors level of exposure up and expands their reach. No, because if the big name’s brand/style is what the readers are looking for they may never try their writing again. But the upside for the best selling author that they get money from all those books with their name on it. I’m not against the co-authoring approach but they only need to be conscience of the reader’s reaction.
So if a few of my favorite authors happen to be interested, I’m available to collaborate.
Nothing like waking up on a Tuesday (or for most people Monday) and realize that your to-do list never was culled. Oh, no, when you weren’t looking the dang thing bred like rabbits. Now with my 40 hour work week starting, I don’t have time to chase down the fury little rodents and get stuff done.
Yet in my defense, you perfectionist ego self that is nagging at me, I managed to finish reading three great books. So I may not have got more words on my work in progress done but I’ll get to it. Maybe this weekend was to allow me to take time away from the story so I can come back refreshed and ready to make the story move.
I know I am very hard on myself so I’m cultivating ways to let myself off the hook about my own personal deadlines. Though that may be my wish, every time I say something about being “nice” to myself or to “cut” myself some slack, in my ears all I can hear is a little dark voice telling me that I’m copping out, I’m lying to myself, and that I’m a hypocrite since I push others to complete their goals by sticking with them.
I must be gentle with myself because I need to keep me filled up with hope, love, and joy for me so I can overflow such sentiments to those I see, speak, and interact with every day. Deep in my heart that rings true. Because that is how I want to be treated and if I can’t stomach giving those responses to me, how do I plan on receiving the same things from others?
Another week gone by and I’ve failed to make my word count goal I had set for myself. Well, I have two options degrade myself for my slothful performance or I could take stock of where I am and adjust my goal. Only one is helpful but it is harder to do the latter.
So how can I cope with my falling short of my goal?
Know that I will fail some days. It’s natural so be kind to myself.
Know I can’t fall behind because it’s my plan. Cut myself a break.
Know why I didn’t make the old goal. Was the original goal too difficult? Am I striving for perfection? Once I assess make the next goal reflect my findings.
Even if I didn’t make my small goal I am still on my path to achieve it. View it as a filling up of my world allowing me to come back to the task refreshed. Then hit it. Carve the time out of my schedule to do the work. If it’s important enough for me to be angry for missing it rededicate myself to it. It’s my dream if I don’t make time for it, who will?