A lot of writers I know are pretty good at self-sabotage. It’s not that writing is hard, exactly, except that it is. Physical labor and exercise isn’t required, and it sure doesn’t look like you’re doing much when you’re staring at that screen and pecking away at a keyboard. But getting good work, consistently, means constant effort. And constant effort = work.
I’d like to have those moments where an entire chapter writes itself and stays virtually unchanged through every draft because I can hear, see, and picture it so clearly the first time; but it just doesn’t happen very often. The trick is sticking with the process so that the reader can’t tell which chapters you labored over and which chapters flowed naturally the first time. And that takes time, and effort, and sometimes it’s easier to do nothing.
Back in August of 2013 I discussed my new outlining approach in depth. At the time I wasn’t sure how useful I’d find it in the long run, but it seemed to be working very well. Here’s the whole article if you want a quick refresher, because it’s turned out to work even better than I might have hoped.
What it boils down to is two main points.
1. Draft a super detailed outline that may range into the tens of thousands of words for the book.
2. Once that’s in hand, begin your drafting almost like a loose play, sort of a “stagey outline.” It includes snatches of dialogue, bits of scenery description, and notes to yourself about when some element or creature or piece of information was introduced.
I’ve used that method now for Stalking the Beast and for the first novel of my new epic sword-and-sorcery series, and now I’m using it for my third Pathfinder novel… and by God, it works. It works so well that by a second read pass most of the adjustments I have to make are small ones.
I don’t know that I’ve been so excited about the premiere of a television show since I was a teenager waiting to see the first episode of a new Star Trek. I had such high hopes for The Next Generation… I know it has its adherents, many among them close friends who tell me that if I just watched to maybe the third, or possibly fourth, season, I’d find great stuff. But when The Next Generation premiered all I knew was that I was seeing a level of quality, script wise, that measured up to the dreadful third season of the original. You know, the season with the space hippies and the men who were half white/half black (but on opposite sides).
As most of my regular visitors probably know, I released an e-book that collected many of my Dabir and Asim stories a couple of years ago. E-books don’t generally receive the same level of interest, promotion, or reviews as printed books (unless lightning strikes) so I was surprised and pleased when I discovered a new review of The Waters of Eternity had gone up over at Dear Author.
I’ve been hard at work on other books and other tales, but Dabir and Asim are near and dear to my heart, as you could probably guess. It’s been a real pleasure to see a new story about them become available in Kaiju Rising, and between that and this new review (and the fact that I’m often thinking about their further adventures even while in the midst of some other writing), I was inspired to dig through my Dabir and Asim folder this morning and look at a few odds and ends.
I’m hard at work on several not-so-secret writing things, so I will use today to simply point you to some other cool stuff on the Internet.
Fellow original Star Trek fans should see what Alex Bledsoe has to say after re-watching the first season.
Fellow writers ought to see some words of wisdom the aforementioned Alex has about writing action scenes.
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