Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I love to write. I love to read. I love to talk about books I have read. I love to talk about things I have written. Fascinating. To me.

I saw some of Stephenie Meyer's interview with Oprah the other day, and she made some statements about her writing that I found interesting.

When asked about possible sequels to the Twilight Series, or whether or not she would ever finish Midnight Sun, she responded, each time, by saying that, in order to write something, she needs to feel "alone" with it, as though no one else will ever read it, as if it will never be published.

I'm not going to criticize her process, though I will point out it seems self-defeating, but I'm not the one who is an international phenomenon, so I guess she's onto something.

It got me thinking, though, about my own process. My participation this month in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month: 50,000 words in 30 days) has brought me into online contact with many amateur writers like myself. A a result, I am gaining awareness of my own process.

1. I do not plan anything. When I begin something, I have a vague main character, some very nebulous secondary characters, and some idea of what the central conflict or theme will be. That's it. I start it and go from there.

I don't outline, or do character sketches, or research anything in advance. I often actively avoid plots requiring me to do so; my awful NaNoWriMo novel (really, it's terrible) required me to craft a 6-generation genealogy that I constantly had to refer back to. (Why did I give that one character 10 daughters? Why?) The few times I have tried to plan, my characters quite unreasonably decided that wouldn't work and took off on their own anyway, meaning I had just wasted a couple of days on work that would be wasted.

The pro? It makes writing really just pure fun. As I'm writing, I have no idea what's going to happen next, either. The con? It makes it really hard to find a good ending. If you don't know from the beginning where the story will end, it can be hard to recognize an ending if you find it.

2. I tend to edit as I go. This is a terrible thing. Part of the reason I did NaNoWriMo was that the whole point is to just write like blazes, as quickly as you can, then go back and edit it later. I did it, but now I'm finished halfway through the month. Maybe I can do another one?

Anyway, when I was writing my vampire novel, I got stuck editing, re-writing, and re-imagining the first 20,000 words or so. I probably stalled out there for months. Then, when I finally moved on, I was somewhat obsessive about going back and making sure everything was working. Editing, by its very nature, isn't the creative exercise writing is, so it really puts the brakes on my imagination.

NaNoWriMo has really gotten me focused on writing, but even then I was jumping back and forth.

I've already begun a new one, that will not, to my current knowledge, be supernatural in any way. I've also got ideas for prequels and sequels to the vampire one, and I think this NaNoWriMo can be saved if I re-work it a bit, expand some of the plot.

If anyone knows of an extremely rich, possibly insane person who would like to sponsor an amateur writer so she can quit her job and write full-time with no guarantee of ever being published, I know you'll let me know.


The Domestic Flunky said...

very cool. i love hearing about others peoples' process. makes me think a bit more critically about my own.

did stephie comment, per chance, on her addiction to the words *petulant* or *statuesque*? :)

Billy Bob Bambino Bombabious Baby the Third said...

Perhaps your writing is more fun because you don't know the ending - like those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. Remember those? Where you flipped through certain pages and had choices that would lead to different outcomes (do you: take the mountain path - turn to page 73; or walk along the beach - turn to page 48). I used to love those books. There were tragic endings - some lethal! - and there were happy endings where you save the day. One that I remember very vividly was where you were in a plane crash in Alaska, the radio was knocked out, and the pilot (a trusted family friend, of course) was unconscious. My favorite ending was not the one where you found the old radio in the deserted cabin and radioed for help, but the one in which you returned back to the plane and found your friend waiting for you with the radio fixed (help was on the way) and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Not sure why, but I was always disappointed when I didn't get that story...

Barbaloot said...

I'm impressed with your ability to write...or anyone's ability to do so. I don't have that kind of creative gene. I just get to appreciate the work of those who do:)

Deb said...

Bill, it's funny, I loved Choose Your Own Adventures. I have a Jane Austen Choose Your Own Adventure for grownups. Sometimes you end up with Mr. Darcy and live happily ever after, sometimes you end up with Mr. Collins and die in a tragic horse riding accident. Fun!

I was hooked on CYOA's as a kid...I had a few favorites I would read again and again. I need to see if they are still in print and order a set for the kids. Maybe I could read them to Joey.

Kristina P. said...

I admire you! I have zero desire to want to write anything more than 10 words!