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Writing Process - 90 Day Novel

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stu1883
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Writing Process - 90 Day Novel

Post by stu1883 » Sat February 5th, 2011, 11:44 am

Writing is a highly individual process and I find it quite daunting sometimes. My mind is racing with ideas I want to get down and I find myself torn between concentrating on my story or "Free Writing".

I discovered, by pure chance, a book called "The 90 Day Novel" by Al Watt. It outlines a process that incorporates free thinking/free writing and completing your first draft. I have found it quite useful.

Does anyone else have a process they use or have taken and modified from someone else?

The good thing about this is I have been writing every day for the last 18/19 days and I have the strength back to write and achieve my long adjusted and postponed goal of finishing my novel!!!!

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat February 5th, 2011, 3:48 pm

Good for you, stu! I read a writing book about twice a year; I get something from every one of them. The last one was 'Writing Historical Fiction' by James Alexander Thom. Altho the one that I found most effective is an OOP by Dean Koontz, something about bestsellers, but really good.

I also like one by Michael Korda called Making the List, a cultural history of the American Bestseller 1900-1999,which is not about writing, but about context. It keeps me focused on the needs and wants of the reader I am writing for, which is so important when reading books that are now classics. What worked for readers in 1860 or 1955 may not please readers today.

I do have a process, but it starts with a philosophy: the reader's time is her most valuable resource (my typical reader is a woman, altho I do not try to write gender-specific books), and I need to have the greatest respect for the gift of that asset, even for a couple of chapters. If I want to inject my words into her life, I have to craft them so that they give back as much as the time they cost.

And to me, that means they have to be entertaining. I'm writing novels--I assume the reader will pick it up because she wants entertainment. Part of my process is to read my work at least ten times during editing. If it gets to bore me, the writer, it will certainly bore the reader.

As to the nuts and bolts, I use stuff from various writing teachers. For ever scene (2-3 major scenes per chapter) I ask the following:
What does the POV want? (girl wants boy)
What is the obstacle to their getting it? (boy is too handsome)
What is the central tension for the reader? (girl doesn't know boy is a serial killer)

And then I have a list of the necessary information I have to include in this scene to move the story along. Of late, I'm cutting like mad. No matter how pretty the words, if they don't move the story along or help the central tension of the scene, they get cut. My reader doesn't have a lot of spare time. By doing this repeatedly, my writing has improved immensely. For one thing, extra words actually dilute the impact of the story, like two adjectives having less punch than one. ('a cold, dark night' vs. 'a dark night' or 'a cold night'). Donald Maas' book The Fire in Fiction helped tune that up, but I learned it first at a writing seminar by John Olsen, who writes scientific thrillers.

Long post. I should take my own advice.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Sat February 5th, 2011, 3:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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wendy
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Post by wendy » Sat February 5th, 2011, 4:37 pm

[quote=""MLE""]And then I have a list of the necessary information I have to include in this scene to move the story along. Of late, I'm cutting like mad. No matter how pretty the words, if they don't move the story along or help the central tension of the scene, they get cut.[/quote]

Good luck with the novel, Stu. I agree with MLE that it's a good policy to "murder your darlings" where appropriate.
The most important thing for me is to have a unique "voice" and not sound like every other writer out there. But of course this has risks - the reader will either love or hate me (but then that's always been the story of my life anyway so I'm quite used to it!)
Wendy K. Perriman
Fire on Dark Water (Penguin, 2011)
http://www.wendyperriman.com
http://www.FireOnDarkWater.com

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3564
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat February 5th, 2011, 5:09 pm

I hear a lot about 'voice' Wendy, but I must confess that I don't get it. It's impossible NOT to have a voice. My writing sounds like me. I suppose if I worked very hard, I could make it sound like somebody else--I faked a Shakespeare once, in college--but after five decades on the planet, my voice is pretty indentifiable. It's in everything I write, from my posts to my novels.

If I was a dull person, I don't think any amount of twitching my 'voice' would make what I had to say interesting.

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stu1883
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Post by stu1883 » Fri February 11th, 2011, 12:57 pm

MLE - Thanks again for some amazing feedback - informative as always.

Wendy - I always think about the "murder my darlings" bit and am certainly considering that, I have a number of scenarios in my head as to who, how and why but not explored that too much as of yet.

I started this bloody project about 4 years ago after a lifetime of procrastinating and - if I'm honest the fear of failure - but I sincerely believe I am good enough and more importantly mys tory is strong enough to be published!

Thanks for your feedback and replying.

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wendy
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Post by wendy » Fri February 11th, 2011, 1:57 pm

[quote=""MLE""]I hear a lot about 'voice' Wendy, but I must confess that I don't get it. It's impossible NOT to have a voice. [/quote]

It's also very easy to have a voice that sounds like everybody else. Or the latest popular writer. Having taught "Composition" (English Language) for 25 years at High School and College levels I can attest to that! I find it SO refreshing when a writer's unique personality shines through . . . .
Wendy K. Perriman
Fire on Dark Water (Penguin, 2011)
http://www.wendyperriman.com
http://www.FireOnDarkWater.com

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Fri February 11th, 2011, 4:54 pm

The most useful thing I've found for actually writing everyday and finishing a story is NaNoWriMo. More intense than a 90 day program, but a great deal of fun as well.

I'm so glad you are back in your groove, Stu.

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Julianne Douglas
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Post by Julianne Douglas » Mon February 14th, 2011, 7:41 pm

Just this week I discovered the website of Alexandra Sokoloff, a screenwriter and novel, and have found her posts of story structure immensely informative and helpful. I'm in the process of trying to storyboard my novel now. She proposes a structure that, although it might be too rigid for the tastes of some writers, is really helping me get a grip on my ever-expanding plot. Go to her sidebar and start reading at "Story Structure 101-The Index Card Method."
Julianne Douglas

Writing the Renaissance

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Matt Phillips
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Post by Matt Phillips » Mon February 14th, 2011, 9:17 pm

Larry Brooks also has a story structure model I've found helpful. He posts a lot of his thoughts on his blog at storyfix.com and has several e-books explaining his approach that are available there.

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