When I leaf through the pages upon pages of my writing, I marvel at the ability we have to craft a tale from just our minds. Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” series, especially the book entitled “The Well of Lost Plots”, has a brilliant explanation as to how those words get there. The description he uses is a vast sea from which letters and punctuation marks are caught, and his telling of how the words get processed and sent to a writer’s mind is highly imaginative. I wish I could give you more details, but I don’t want to get up and go get the book. Call me lazy–I call me “eight hours on my feet”.
My assignment this week is to tell my audience how I write. Your assignment is to read it. So far, you’re doing great!
My writing style changes from book to book. When I wrote the first one, “Be Not Afraid”, it was to get the extended-play version of a nightmare out of my head. I didn’t have any problem with just sitting down in the living room and writing for hours. It was a compulsion more than a desire to write what was repeating itself continuously in my mind.
The next book, which became two because of its length, took a bit longer to write. This tale was written as a result of people asking me if there was going to be a sequel. It turned out to be a prequel (Unholy Trinity) and a sequel (Resurgence: The Rise of Judas). They took longer to write, and were more what I wanted to do rather than a compulsion.
My books are heavily inlaid with Christian spirituality, and there is a very good reason. I am a Catholic, and not just in name. I truly believe what my faith is about, and I have prayed a lot to be an instrument in God’s hand. These books carry a message of forgiveness and salvation, and as such I would not attempt to write them without God’s guidance.
Walking for hours leaves me with a lot of time to mull over what I am going to write, and that is when I call in The Authority. I want God to guide me in all of my writing–it is what He wants, rather than what plot twists or turns I may think of. And sometimes the insights I get surprise me. But, if they persist, those plot twists go into the book. For example, it entered into my head during one walk that a favorite character had to die. That stopped me in my tracks! But the thought persisted, and it actually worked out very well, plot-wise.
Where I write is important. I cannot have music, TV, or other extraneous noise in the background. I really like it quiet. The ticking of the clock, the cat purring beside me, the wind through the trees outside–those are all allowed, but never try to start a conversation or put some sort of noisebox on in the same room.
I like to write everything out with pen and paper. The reason being, my fingers don’t type well. It’s as if they’re speaking a different language. I had to go back and correct three words in that last sentence. And that is too disruptive. I lose my train of thought.
Before I get into writing, I play a few games of solitaire on the computer, just to get my thoughts in order. Sometimes I have a bottle of beer or hard cider, especially if the chapter I am about to write is going to be particularly horrific. I can see why Poe chose to do the drugs he did…
My manuscripts get four edits before they ever see daylight or beta readers. The first is the writing by hand, as noted above. This is where all of the thoughts and scenes I had imagined first get life. But as any author knows, that is rarely a static thing. As I write, other ideas and thoughts come out as well. This I leave as is, unless there is a continuity problem or rough sentence. I will write notes to fix them, but I move on.
Eventually I type the manuscript into my thumb drive. At that time, I will move sentences around and fix those things I wrote notes for earlier. This takes forever, and I am not fond of doing it. Stupid 12th-century-Moldavian-speaking fingers!!
After every chapter I type into the computer, I go back and find the misspells and the sentence fragments–and whatever else I may have overlooked–and fix them. I do the same thing once I finish the manuscript; I read through the entire thing and make sure it makes sense. I am glad I did that for the first book–I found out I’d left out an entire day! The characters went to bed on Saturday and woke up on Monday. Oh, to get that much sleep!
And, of course, if my beta readers have suggestions or if they find oopses, then there is another edit there.
My prequel is with an editor now, and there are only 4 short months til launch–woot! I can hardly wait! Then we will see if those hours putting “those words” on the paper were worth it!!