Random Ruminations Remotely Related to wRiting
I was planning on writing a review of George R. R. Martin’s first book in the “Game of Thrones” series, but I’m having an internal battle. I hate to break a promise to my many imaginary readers, but since you don’t truly exist, does it really matter?
As soon as I finished “Game” I wanted something else to listen to, I turned on the iPhone and went to my Audible app but before I could type in “Tim Powers” I saw a book in my library I had listened to a couple years ago; “On Writing”, by Stephen King. I fired that one up, instead of purchasing a new one, and within the first few minutes I was laughing out loud. (Something I don’t do very often.)
I’m almost done with it. It’s only about 8 hours, compared to “Game” which is nearly 35. I’ve been making notes on my hand of how I need to change the book I’m currently doing my first edit on.
Which is one of the things I wanted to bring out from his book. He says a story should have “two drafts and a pollish.” I have always called my initial draft the rough draft and the next time through my first edit. When I go through it the next time I call that my final edit, he calls that one the pollish, though it sounds like the same things happen in each.
This is how he reccomends writing. The first draft it written “with the doors closed” and fast. He says it should be written in three to four months, writing every day. He says this way you don’t lose track of your characters and they stay fresh. Door closed means you don’t talk about it or show it to anyone while you’re writing it. Doing so may have two possible negative results. One, you may become discouraged to pursue a direction that would have been good as a result of someone saying something negative about it. Or, two, you make get a big head and fill the story with repeticious fluff when someone tells you how great you are.
Personally, I like to tell my wife what I wrote each day. It gives us something to talk about, and speaking something out loud helps me get a clearer picture of what I’m trying to do.
I agree one hundred percent about doing it fast. That’s why I like Nanowrimo. It gets you in that habbit. The two novels I’m working on now, I wrote the first in 60 days, with 51k words. The next, Nanowrimo, I wrote, starting one week after the first, in 45 days for 98k words. The second book, acording to my alpha reader was better written than the first, though he like the first better. (King also says the only way to improve as a writer is to #1, read, and #2 write, a lot. I think that’s why the second novel was better written. I had just come off a wonderful ride with the first, and had learned quite a lot from it.)
The second draft is written with the door open. He says to give your story at least a six week break. Don’t look at it, read it, edit it, or talk about it. Do something completely different, so that you can come back to it as the reader, fresh. King recomends giving the story to six or so trusted readers, let them read it through entirely before discussing it with them.
This second draft you can fill plot holes, add theme, and symbolism. You should also correct grammar you notice.
The polish draft is for, just that, polish. Every sentence check for grammar and punctuation. Don’t depend on the copy editor.
There is a ton more stuff that he says that is excellent and vastly functional for any writer, new or not so new.
What makes this book great, I think, are the memoirs. He watch his life, growth, development as a writer, back ground from a lot of his stories, and just a lot of fascinating stuff.
I highly recomend this book, five stars. I’ll listen to it again in a year.
Thanks for your patience, my imaginary friends. I’ll write about “The Game of Thrones” next week.
Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll is a staff editor at Flying Island Press, afather and grand father, impatient, and lazy. He’s the author the recently released, just yesterday, novel at www.podiobooks.conm, ‘The Price of Friendship’. A teen to adult, family friendly, urban fantasy. This is his first novel, so be kind to him.