What are you Writing?

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by MikeKardec, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    My take (never having done it) is that you'd be vastly better to self publish with Kindle Originals. I worked for/with (I was self employed) Dell Magazines in the 1990s and EQ was one of our sister publications. I used to joke that they were still paying the same dollar amounts that the pulps paid in the late 1940s. We had some good writers work for us but they sure weren't doing it for the $$$!
     
    KayEn78 likes this.
  2. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    Well, Ellroy has gone to copying himself. Disappointing. He was insanely great in the era of The Black Dahlia and The Big Nowhere. Sort of like Jack Webb meets Allen Ginsberg. I generally don't like "overwritten" material but he took style to new and somehow uniquely themed heights. It truly was like the soaring arias of Leone's combination of music and camera and editing. Challenge yourself. Why not?
     
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  3. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    EQ was a good place to break in, other pulps. Have to start somewhere.
     
  4. WonkyBloke

    WonkyBloke One of the Regulars

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    I'm feeling my way through my first novel. Currently 42k words in, with what I hope is a fairly reliable rough mapping out of the rest of the journey. Also the 42k takes me further through the story than would be expected, as it's written somewhat lean. By this I mean it's rather light on texture, and quite cold and mechanical in places. Once I have the skeleton built, I'll go back and put the flesh on the bones in terms of the settings and ambience, weaving in the elements of pace and tension, and trying to put the reader deeper into the moments.

    It's a psychological thriller... of sorts. It features a couple of vigilantes, but quite surprisingly (or it was to me), it spends a lot of time with the characters when they're not "at work", so to speak, and is proving a much better story for not just being all action scenes. It's more about them as people, than simply what they do, and we see then both on and off the job.

    Yes, I know, hardly the most appetising pitch, but I'll worry about learning what to write on the outside, when I've finished figuring out what's going on the inside.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  5. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    The most important aspect is to get something down on paper. Once you externalize the story you can start to react to it as something separate from you. Then the process is a negotiation, a dialog, that you have with it to see what it can be and what it wants to be (stories don't always want to be what you want them to be and learning to let them, and trust them, to do their own thing is a major lesson in writing. Every time it's a new experience. I'm at the same spot with a new novel and it feels like I don't know what I'm doing ... and I DON'T. I'm just hoping I can get it all down then look at it and figure it out. A friend of mine, a somewhat more accomplished writer, says that looking for the story can be like searching a room with a flashlight. Sometimes that is true for me, sometimes not. Inadequate outlining on this one has made his description very meaningful!
     
  6. WonkyBloke

    WonkyBloke One of the Regulars

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    Yes, that's exactly what I found with this project. Whenever I thought I knew where the story should go, the protagonists had other ideas. That's why I've focussed initially on the mechanics of the story (he did, she did, he said, she said), and taken to layering the setting, feel, prose, etc afterwards. Indeed some areas just have place holders, such as [car breaks down] or [x and y argue about z], so I don't get too bogged down trying to get one aspect right, and keep the flow of writing moving.

    Big picture first, and detail later, seems to be working for me so far. The first fifteen chapters have all had at least two visits, and the second visit did unlock a few things that needed changing elsewhere to accommodate them, but nothing seismic. The next five chapters are more structural at present, and will be revisited in a couple more chapters. The second run through of those should then give me the clearance to address the closing chapters.

    For a first work, I'm very happy with how it's all panning out so far, but I've certainly learned a lot along the way. If I do get it finished and refined, there'll be a huge sense of achievement at the end of it, even if it never sells a single copy.
     
  7. WonkyBloke

    WonkyBloke One of the Regulars

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    UK
    Also, in terms of the "layering" approach, I've now taken to starting each chapter with pencil and paper. I can scrawl with a pencil faster than I can type, and my creativity seems to work differently with a scribbling stick than it does with buttons. Scrawling four chapters down with a pencil, then transferring them the the laptop after at a slower pace, seems to be yielding better results than going straight from brain to screen.
     
  8. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    VERY few writers have the discipline to just bull forward, rather than going back and screwing around perfecting things. I have this failing but, most of the time, getting in and getting to the end is the best remedy. Then rewrite, rethink, reassess ... though probably in the opposite order!
     
  9. WonkyBloke

    WonkyBloke One of the Regulars

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    I'm not sure it's a discipline thing with me. It's just that without future events structured, I struggle to paint the present. I did try lingering and refining earlier on in the project, and found it quite restrictive, because the refinements limited where I could go next. I actually painted myself into a corner a couple of times doing that, and letting go of the details, seems to give me a much wider scope of where the plot can go.

    I do go back and tinker occasionally, particularly if I'm not quite sure where to go next, or I lose traction in getting there somehow. For me, it's almost like mining for missed clues as to what may be ahead. As soon as I unlock something though, I have to go straight back to the big picture again, and get it slapped down before I lose the tangent. Also, I might double back if the story if I feel that an action or revelation needs seeding, or needs weaving in somewhere so I can use it later. Again, sometimes they're just notes for the future revisions, rather than partial rewrites.

    I also have frequent periods of downtime for health reasons, where nothing gets done for a while, so going back and retracing my steps is quite necessary, but I don't get too caught up in tinkering, unless I feel it's gone in a direction it shouldn't and needs nudging in a different direction again. Mostly though, I'm still working out my own processes, almost as if the novel is simply the by-product of learning how to write. I won't feel like a writer until I've completed at least two or three pieces of work, and feel like I've served my apprenticeship so to speak.
     

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