Thursday, April 19, 2007

Inching Along

It’s hard to get anything else done when I’m working on my book. When something is important to me, it really takes over. Although I don’t usually have problems focusing in on creative projects, this book is forcing me to dig much deeper than I normally have to.
I much prefer to do the hard things first so I can get them over with, but this project depends on persistence not front-end loading.
How people can write books quickly is beyond me. Years ago John and I went to a seminar at The Learning Annex where this guy promised us that we could write a book in two weeks if we were organized. He had published several books himself—wish I could remember his name—but they were all non-fiction, and the people in the audience who had hoped to write their novels in just 14 (!) days were really annoyed with him.
Naturally he had an answer for everything—being more of a salesman than a writer in my opinion—and the answer was this: read a best seller; use it as a template; fit your characters into it.
At the time I was working on a romance novel so I could see what he was driving at. After all, a romance novel does have a certain structure: 1. Sparks fly 2. Misunderstandings develop 3. Couple parts 4. Lusty reunion 5. Eternal love (inferred). When you read a romance novel, you know you’re guaranteed the couple will end up together, but the stories and the people involved are always different. How could anyone possibly do something like this on the fly unless you’re Dame Barbara Cartland?

Apparently Dame Barbara reclined on a sofa, ate bonbons and just yakked on and on while her secretary took dictation. Presumably, the poor secretary was in charge of correcting Dame Barbara’s grammar—such as was—and checking to make sure the heroine didn’t appear in two different gowns in the same scene. Coming up with the idea is actually the easy part; the hard part is shaping it into something worthwhile.

1 comment:

A bird in the hand said...

I found this post very interesting. I would have wanted to smack the man too. He was talking about formula, not writing, and he should have made that clear. There is so much more going on in writing, as I'm sure you know, developing characaters, the story, and the thing that gets often neglected, style: writing well, clearly, editing, polishing, since part of the enjoyment of reading is good writing!

I wrote three novels in the last decade (90s) and they took many, many months.