Saturday, January 1, 2011

Another comment about the writing process

Okay, I'm not procrastinating really, it's just that I want to share with you some things I've noticed about the way I'm writing. And, after 24 published books, you'd think I'd have this writing thing nailed.

Nup. I am an evolving and ever learning student of the art.

I love reading and I read a lot. Both YA, middle grade (which we call junior fiction here in NZ) and adult. I am currently reading Anita Shreve's 'A Change of Altitude' and it is a pleasant read. I use the word ‘pleasant’ because, before I became a 'real writer', I consumed every piece of work I could get of hers - and others. Now, I read with a much more sensitive soul. So now, I'm noticing how Shreve executes a certain writer's problem; how she manoeuvrers from one thing to another. Sometimes I go 'of course!'; other times I go 'um. nah. That doesn't work for me.'

So, back to an explanation of the title of this blog post:
This past month, this is what I have been doing: I write and while I write I often put in [more here] or [why] and highlight these yellow and then continue.

Then, the next time I write, I go to what I've just written and look at my highlighted editorial comments and often 'fix them'.

The other thing I've noticed recently about the way I write is that I am writing what I would like to read. I know that this is not rocket science and I should have thought of it before but with a sweeping historical epic, I need to think about what it is my readers want from such a genre.

Personally, I fell in love with the characters in The Bronze Horseman and Cross-stitch so I stayed with the telling of their stories but the last Jamie and Claire story frustrated me because it was sooooo loooong and had detail I didn't care about. But then, others love that kind of stuff and who am I to complain. I'll be cueing up for the next installment.

But, back to me.

It's not easy. Actually that's a weak comment. It's damn hard being a writer. And I only continue to do it because these characters need their story told and they picked me.

Dammit!

4 comments:

Jeannie said...

The yellow highlight idea is very helpful, thank you. Finding a process that works to keep track of tie-ins and links is not easy. I've been using post-it notes on printed drafts...time consuming. Your idea - so simple.

jtwebster books said...

I like your last comment Tania - "they picked me." it really strikes a chord with me. There's these people wandering about, in the recesses of our minds, needing their stories told. Fleance, Rosie and Rachel picked you and my characters picked me! And we have to do the best we can with the talents God has given us. :)

TK Roxborogh said...

it works so well, Jeannie and makes me feel safe that I won't forget to go back.

And JT - exactly about being chosen. It's not spiritual though there seems to be a spiritual element to it - it's just how we writers work. These characters truck on up to us and whack us across the head: Tell my story! They demand. And we do. But, it's hard work.

Keep going Sue. Keep going. And, Jeannie. I'm your number one fan! Truely. You are undiscovered country and when it all comes to ground, I look forward to standing with you when you win an award because you will; because you deserve to. That dang story has been mingling in my blood for years and it has to get out!

Cough. Okay, I've written more here than I've done with the book but it was very helpful.

Kia kaha, te whanau

Pen said...

I'm so with you guys on this one!

There are certain stories that we make up and it is easy to manipulate the story as we wish.

But there are other stories (like the one I'm writing now) where the characters come to you and demand you tell their story.

They haunt you until you agree to write it. They argue with you when you get it wrong and nag you when you get tired and don't want to go on. Eventually they become real to you and you find yourself laughing with them when something funny happens and shedding a tear when they grieve.

Of course this sort of carry on causes the world to see as mad, and maybe they're right, but I wouldn't give up this gift for anything!