Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Know the enemy...

MOVIE SPOILER ALERT - Lars and the Real Girl (you have been warned :)

I've been horribly slack about editing my WIP. My children are still off school and our routine is an anti-routine. My brain has curdled in the heat and doesn't like looking at constructed sentences for too long. Tis annoying as I want to get this thing finished - it s so close and yet SOOO far and the only person that can make a difference is me (oh the pain of responsibility). And editing can be one long 'moment' of doubt and fear. For me editing is fraught with extra fear as it is the opportunity to remove any suckage, tighten up the brilliance and make the story as rocking as its ever going to get. Ha ha .If you ever suffer from the illusion that writing is easy take note: pulling out my brain through my nostrils would be a simpler and less painful process. I know what I have to do on this job but that does not make it any easier. I think its the 100% vigilance required to not get slack and lazy and lapse into cliche and adverbs and tell. And most of all to keep faith with every plot development for the entire story. I cannot do B if I didn't do A. Is A in the right place? And if I have A and B then C must turn up in the right spot and do its job. And did he still have green eyes and freckles and behave on page 100 like he behaved on page 5. Is her character development credible and meaningful and supported by what has happened to her? Do we care? After watching Lars and the Real Girl the other night and crying during the sex doll's funeral I know what result effective character and plot development can have. I am now reading the second book in Steig Larsson's Millenium Trilogy and I care about the main character so much I am dreading what might happen next. I am compelled to read but have to steel myself when I do, just in case. There are annoying things about Larsson's writing style (if he makes one more list of technical info for his key characters latest purchase or tells me the square meterage of the house some minor character lives in I may scream), but these are not enough to stop me reading. Fascinating stuff. Folks if you ever need a reminder of one of the most important things you can do to improve the quality of your own writing, it is this - read more books!!! Yes this is one cliche I am happy to repeat ad nauseum and if need be to shout it as well. You cannot write if you do not read. There is no better writing education. And this does not mean reading only literary works of genius. One must recognise bad writing if one is to avoid it. Know the enemy. READ MORE BOOKS! Read widely, and find out what you like and what works, and what doesn't.

And I have also discovered that writing a synopsis can be a helpful method of pointing out any weaknesses in a plot. I have just submitted two stories to an Australian publisher and a synopsis was required for each. I usually write a synopsis/outline before I get writing but things always change during the writing process and a corrected synopsis is required for submissions. It is a great test of the brains of your story. Does this still make sense? Would real people behave like this? Does the journey create the result? And one of my personal favourites - was the payoff worth the reading effort?

In other news I am now officially enrolled for another university paper this year and I am very excited as I have been credited an additional paper as I can demonstrate meeting the requirements without any additional effort on my part. This is jolly decent of them and exceedingly handy. I now have to get only five more papers to complete the diploma. Oh and I recently wittered on in a brief and probably insufficient way about POV. For more in-depth smart advice go check out Nicola Morgan's blog post on this very subject. This writer knows her stuff.


KarenG said...

Good post, Melinda, I so agree with you on the reading thing. I've been reading like a maniac simply to keep myself going on the writing work of wip. It seems to be working. I got in 4 hours today, 2 in the a.m. and 2 just now. (So I have to reward myself with a bit of blog reading lol)

P.s. Looking at your books here, I'm thinking if my kids were still little, I'm sure we would have bought and enjoyed these books.

Old Kitty said...


I thoroughly agree. You can never read too many books!

And also about being vigilant with one's writing. Always remember the basics = POV, misuse of adjectives, adverbs cliche and keeping on top of the plot and not losing it!

I always find writing a synopsis very difficult. I've always been told to do try and do so on one side of an A4 page (double spaced, 12 font - so not much room!) and it's definitely an ongoing thing with me as I do waffle. But I keep on practicing.

And Nicola's blog on POV is really really good too.


Take care and good luck with your editing.

Take care