Monday, September 6, 2010

Minx on Monday - Just write it!

I'm an unashamed online courseaholic and an avid reader of books and blogs about writing craft, but the thing I've learnt most from - is writing.
I'm a natural panster (write without a synopsis or plan, just go for it), and find that this method works for me. That's not to say I don't plot, but not usually until I've got some way into the story first - I define turning points in the story and write towards them.
But before I learnt anything about writing, I wrote. And reading back over these early attempts, they ain't half bad. Okay, there's too many characters. And my earlier manuscripts rambled all over the place, in an unfocused manner. But the first thing I had to learn was that I could write a full size manuscript. Before I wrote it, I didn't know that I could.
After I wrote my first book, I learned about POV. That was a bit of a revelation, I was head hopping all over the place. Then I learned about conflict. I was pretty good naturally about external conflict, but internal conflict was something I hadn't even really thought about. I had to learn it. And seeing the lack of it in my writing was the perfect lesson!
I know lots of writers build boards of pictures, but this doesn't work for me. Instead, I will find a picture and use that to help keep a location clear in my mind and for inspiration. As I write more, my way of writing has changed, I now focus on each scene - does it have a purpose? If it doesn't, its reworked till it does, or culled.
So the thought I'd like to leave everyone with today is that you don't have to know the rules to write. You just need to dive in and write something. Once you've done that, you can rewrite it, see the gaps, learn the things that are lacking, and fix it.
The trick is to start - for once you've completed that first manuscript, whatever its faults, you are a writer. And if you're determined, the rest will follow!


Lorraine said...

Well you're living proof that determination pays off Sally. So glad your dedicated approach and willingness to constantly improve has paid off :-)

Francine Howarth said...

Hi Sally,

Couldn't agree more with this post.

Too many aspiring writers read fearful write-ups referring to "how to write a novel" - "how to write inner conflict" - "how to kiss publisher cheeks", all of which, according to a once queen of romance: " this places immense pressure on impressionable aspiring novelists' and often as not stifles creativity of individual style and voice".

The rule of thumb for all writers as presented by her in a magazine interview: "read, read, read, and if a book stands out as superior to others in the same genre give it a second read. Consider what about the book made it stand out for you.

1) It might be element of inner conflict of either the hero or heroine, which will eventually have come to light (not immediately apparent)

2) Maybe the outer conflict was the initial hook and for you drove the plot along.

3) It might even be the basic plot and setting, which kept you enthralled throughout.

In her words (Barbara Cartland): "write write write from the heart, and if one publisher says your novel is not to their fashionable taste, another will surely love it".

Fair enough, in her day there were more comventional romance publishers out there. That said, HM&B are beginning to lose ground in the electronic marketplace, (far more competition than bargained on)and there are rumours that Tesco is thinking of starting its own publishing enterprise!! So where will that leave HM&B paperbacks in what is an already tough market place?


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Wise words, Sally.

Typing 'The End' to your first manuscript is an incredible feeling isn't it?

Francine--Tesco? Really?

Now, discipline, off to write!

Lots of love,


Lacey Devlin said...

Fab post Sally. I sometimes think we spend so much time learning 'how to' that there's not enough time left over to actually practice the craft :).

Maya Blake said...

That's so true, Sally! I think as writers, sometimes we tend to worry too much about the technicalities of writing. TBH, when I'm not writing category, I revert to my old habit of just pantsing to see where the writing takes me, hence my 120k sci-fi novel! With category though one has to reel themselves in a bit, which is a shame and does my pantsing spirit no good at all, lol!

Great post!

Kat said...

Too true Sally, it's very easy to get caught up in the 'how to's' and rules and lose your story somewhere along the line.
I think you're right - just write it from your heart, and then edit it into shape.
I don't do mood boards either, but I LOVE casting my lead roles. I can lose hours debating the merits of Gerard Butler over Tom Welling...;o)

Sally Clements said...

Lorraine, I think determination will always win out. Go minxes!
Francine, those are all great points, and very interesting about Tesco, they have the book market well sewn up, so I guess its a logical next step for them!
Lacey, I think I love the learning as much as the writing - worst luck for me!
Maya, I'd love to read that sci-fi novel someday...
Jo, I love casting lead roles too. Tom Welling is a busy man, inspiring writers everywhere, but GB is hot on his heels!

Maya Blake said...

Tom Welling? Why have I never heard of this man? Off to google...Oh the joys of a work day with the internet at your fingerstips!

Maya Blake said...

That's why I don't know him. I'm not a very huge fan of Smallville, but I can see where the inspiration comes from Sally & Jo. Oh yes...

Sally Clements said...

Maya! never heard of Tom Welling?!? He's a super man, and very inspiring. Off to Smallville for you, pronto! (lots more inspiration there, I promise!)

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Aw, Tom Welling is just lovely. Although, I'm old enough to remember Dean Cain's finest Superman hour, too (sigh).

Fab post, Sally. Like Lacey, I seem to spend so much time reading how-to-write books there's very little time left for getting the words down.