Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thoughts on Writing (26 - 30)

26. Learn to be a hermit. Learn to say 'I'm sorry, but I can't come to your party, I booked that night for revisions and I don't have any other time to do it this week.' Learn to tell people no. Learn to treat writing as a job -- one that may well be both unpaid and in addition to whatever job pays the bills for a long, long time. If you make excuses to let yourself skip writing, if you choose a social life over that second job, you're not addicted enough. If you want to get better, you'll learn.

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27. People are going to act like writing is easy, because that's all they know; they're not writers. People are going to say you're being a snob when you say 'I'm sorry, I have to work,' because they can't understand why you'd choose reworking chapter three over going to the roller derby. Try not to take it personally. I'm sure they do shit that seems crazy to you, too.

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28. Kevin Smith said 'this isn't for the critics' when he was talking about Jersey Girl, and the critics savaged it anyway. There's a lesson here. You can't write to some imagined critical ideal, but if all eleven of the people you trust to review your first drafts say 'wow, this makes no sense at all, what the hell is going on here?', you should maybe consider taking another look. Pandering is bad. Being accessible is not.

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29. Outline as much as you need to. I have books where I've written incredibly detailed outlines, including locations and characters involved in every scene. I have books where I pretty much just plunged in blind and started hacking around with my machete, praying that nothing in my new-found jungle was going to give me Ebola. Even those books eventually got 'event chains' written on Post-It notes and stuck to my computer, because I needed to keep track of who was where. Neither style is superior to the other.

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30. If you're writing any sort of series, whether it be a series of short stories or a series of novels, you need a continuity guide. The format is up to you. The level of detail is up to you. But believe me, even if you somehow manage to forget that your hero has green eyes and turn them hazel, your readers won't, and they will eat your soul.

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