Saturday, January 01, 2005

Jan 1, 2005 - is this a New Year's resolution? No, I doubt I could keep it up. However I've been reading "Write Away" by Elizabeth George and it would have to be one of the best books about writing I have read. She is very practical, gives lots of great examples and explains stuff clearly. She also gives some terrific ideas on how to approach plotting, in particular, and setting. I was surprised that she is not from the UK (I knew she lived in the US) - she says her passion is the UK and its varied countryside and she loves to write books set there.
One of the bits I like the best was her excerpts from her journal. She has kept a journal about writing her novels for the last 4 books (as Steinbeck did) and it was amazing to see how self-doubting she is, even with all her publishing credits. She is a very good writer, and is very honest about how and why she writes. So I thought I would like to do something similar. And sometimes post it here, but not always. I already spend far too much time on the internet with various stuff, and I don't want to add to it or I'll never write anything.
But here goes.
I have decided to go back to the new version of my historical novel (henceforth known as HN). I have written about 4 versions of it so far, trying mainly to tighten the pace and cut down on the words. Trouble is, it's a novel for about 10-14 year olds and despite the huge Harry Potter's, I can't get away with 94,000 words for kids this age. Mind you, I started with 120,000 so cutting 26,000 words was a good effort, right?
This version (called Version X) was a complete new version - no cutting or fiddling. I have changed it to a timeslip novel and at my last attempt, I wrote around 20,000 words. Now, some 6 months later, I have read these through and done some heavy thinking. Do I want to commit at least another 6 months of my life to this? Can I make it a very good novel? Do I know how? Big questions.
So I have decided, yes, I will give it another try. I will rework these 20,000 first, and I will use a lot of what I have gained from the EG book. I need to spend more time thinking and plotting. Already I have come up with many great new ideas and solutions, just from taking the time to mull it over in depth.
And I am beginning with lots of free writing, building my characters, as I have had to acknowledge that I have never fully got inside my characters. They read too much like cut-outs with no depth, no motivation.
So yesterday I wrote 6 pages on Will, the main character, and already I know so much more about him. And I used EG's guide - the guts - write until something in your guts tells you that what you have will work. If you don't get that feeling, it's not right.
So, onward and upward. Get out the working table to put all my notes and research on, spend the time needed on plotting and character, take it one day at a time.

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