I’ve written 18k of short storyness in the last 2 weeks, and then embarked on a mad 2-day revision spree. My brain is fairly toasted at the moment, so I thought I would point you in the direction of a few good links while my grey matter still cowers at the base of my skull.
I’m a fan of Alexandra Solokoff for her brilliant writing advice, especially her attitude; writing is HARD WORK. Today she talks about The Bash-Through Draft (aka draft zero).
Then when I start to write a first draft I just bash through it from beginning to end. It’s the most grueling part of writing a book (the suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark called it “clawing through a mountain of concrete with my bare hands…”) and takes the longest, but writing the whole thing out, even in the most sketchy way, from start to finish, is the best way I know to actually guarantee that I will finish a book or a script.
Thanks, Alex, I needed to hear that today. Coming back from a revision frenzy always leaves me reaching for perfection instead of progress.
In terms of revision though, now is a good time to talk about Weasel Words. I can’t remember who coined the phrase, but Weasel Words are the weak points in our prose; the superfluous words that contribute nothing to the story.
As an example, this weekend I revised a 9.9k story down to 8.5k by eradicating all the weasel words from the manuscript. How did I lose 1.8k words? Because you don’t just delete the weasel word. You have to look at the paragraph around it, consider the impact and what you need to change. Often you will find that a weasel word marks a weak passage that lacked strong action, strong emotion or impact, or in fact any relevance to the story.
Check out the links, then go hunting. You will be amazed at the difference in your prose.
I’m having a lot of fun with my current novella. It’s high fantasy, something I haven’t written in many years. It’s a story about forgiveness, and pain, and finding courage again. The story location was inspired by the beautiful Tianzi Mountains in China (pictured).
The first time I knew I would marry Kamon I was carrying a baby to the sacred pool. It was Usimi I carried in my arms, the first child I would bless alone after I had sent my mother’s bones to the forest below.
The baby’s family surrounded me in a chattering crowd, so I did not notice when he began to follow. At the ropeway platform I turned to speak to the baby’s mother and I saw him. He perched in a tree that clung to the side of the rock, hanging out over the gap.
He was looking straight at me.
I turned away, pretended I hadn’t seen him, but I could feel his gaze on the back of my neck. I knew he was married already, to the beautiful Siri. On the pretense of settling the child I glanced his way again. He met my gaze, possessiveness in his eyes. His arrogance stirred something inside me.
I turned away from the throng and stepped to the edge of the platform. I held the baby securely against me and raised one arm.
The wind came at my bidding and lifted me up and over the gap. There were gasps and shrieks and then a cheer as I landed on the other side, the babe secure in my arms.
I turned and met Kamon’s stare openly. I remember his lips curving up in a smile. The wind tore down upon us, dancing around the crowd, whipping hair and clothes about. I stood unmoved in the disturbance, my eyes on Kamon.
If he wanted me, I would not be an easy prize.
Feel free to post a snippet of your own, either in the comments or on your own blog, and tell us a little about what you are working on.
I’ve had to re-plan my 2012 project a little. I’ve started draft 2 of Traitor, and it’s coming along well. However my original plan to rewrite about 85% of it has turned into the realisation that I might as well rewrite the whole thing.
So, since Traitor is acting like a first draft, I’m putting Freedom on hold and dusting off an old novella of mine, The Vessel. It’s something unusual for me, an urban fantasy set in Australia. I really liked the story and the protagonist, so I’m looking forward to revisiting it. Heaven only knows what I’ll do with it when it’s rewritten, but there are a couple of people wanting to find out what happened so I might as well finish it for them.
This gives me something to actually revise during the revision phase.
I don’t know about you, but my writing progress tends to go in fits and starts. I’ll be rabbiting along, getting nowhere, and then I’ll write something amazing which sells fast and I will feel like I’ve made progress, like I’ve reached a new level in my writing.
And then I’ll rabbit along at that level for a while, feeling like I’m going nowhere again.
I’m at the rabbiting stage at the moment. I’ve made some good sales, I can see improvement in my writing, but I’m not producing the amazing writing that I aspire to. I feel like I am in writing limbo.
There are three ways to make progress in any skill. One is practice, which you have to do a LOT. The second is self-learning, where you concentrate on one particular skill until you’ve improved it. The last one is learning from another, whether it’s a mentor, a writing course or a workshop.
I feel like I’m in need of that sort of learning. I’ve been practicing like a manic. I read the best, and I try to learn as much as I can about how the best writers do it.
But in terms of the third way to progress, I’m stuck. There aren’t that many workshops and courses available where I am, and most of them are for beginning writers. And as for SFF writers, well…they are few and far between.
So, I’m in limbo. Back to writing and subbing and trying to get somewhere.