Writing Well

hulk thinkI’m starting to think that writing is easy and that it’s writing well that’s the hard part.

My new outlining method has worked wonderfully for me all year. I remain excited by it. It is not, however, the complete solution to all my writing problems.

It ensures that all the bones are in place and that everything makes sense plot wise so that I don’t write dead-end scenes that end up having to be cut. But, because I start with a very rough framework, it can take longer than I might like to whip the prose itself into shape. On the plus side, it means that my writing process HAS gotten much faster. But it’s still not as fast as I would like. I can complete a rough draft in three months, but it might take another month or two to punch it into proper shape. Now that’s not a bad thing, certainly, especially when some of my first books took more than a year to write. But in an industry that doesn’t pay particularly well 4-5 months isn’t a useful tempo. I’m not sure what to do about that except keep fingers crossed that the next books sell even better so that 4-5 months profits me more.

Process wise, though, I keep coming back to some essential truths.

1. I write better with an outline.

2. I write better when I remember to ask what every character wants before I write the scene.

3. I write better when I have the villain’s motives and powers figured out well in advance.

4. I benefit greatly when I get feedback from a small cadre of beta readers. They can point out things I missed. Most of mine have drifted away, and having recently benefited from some careful reading by the talented and generous Dave Gross I see clearly that I need to get back to trading critiques with my fellow writers.

I know ALL of these lessons. I’ve known all of these lessons for a long time. Perhaps one of these years I’ll remember all of them, constantly, so that I can stop repeating the same mistakes and get on to learning some new ones…