Thursday, January 21, 2016

Writing triggers.

I think I fixed the problems from yesterday. It going to be a challenge to get the chapters in the right order -- there is what works sequentially, and then there is what works thematically, and they don't always match. I prefer chapters to work thematically, except when it warps the space/time continuum so much that it's bothersome.

I'm 40,000 words in, and they came relatively easy. I've worked out a process that works well for me.

1.) I don't try to do more than 2000 to 3000 words a day. (Except when it just comes to me fully formed, which seems to happen about every fifth day or so, then I'll write more.)

2.) I go for walks.

3.) I think the scene out in advance, and only then do I write it.

Often I sort of know what I want the scene to accomplish. So I ask myself questions as to how I can get there. I ask myself these questions in the shower, and sometimes I'll write the first part of chapter right away.

Then I drive out to the Badlands, again asking myself what I want to accomplish.

Turning onto the road is like a trigger for me now. I'm removed from my everyday life, and I'm in a different zone.

So what happens is, I'm walking along and a little inkling, a tickling in the back of my brain, a little snippet of story, or dialogue, or action, or description, comes to me. I say, "thank you" to my brain, but keep walking. Then another snippet comes along, and so on. One snippet leads to another. And so on.

Sometimes I'll stop when I have enough of these store up, (often at my "writing stump" which is midway on my daily walking route), and I'll write the scene. Then I'll get up and finish my route. I'll sit in the car and write some more.

Finally, I'll drive home, all the while ideas are still coming to me. I generally write the last third of a chapter at home, just in time for dinner.

Takes all day, but I have a fully realized, fleshed out chapter.

So I've always been able to write 2000 words or more a day, but I used to start with just one or two ideas. Now I have maybe 25 telling details stored up before I start writing, and while writing I'll add another 25 telling details, and the chapter feels pretty complete.

Before, I had everything in place, but I had to add more telling details in the rewrite. I'd get to about the same place, but with a lot more work.

Now, on the rewrite, I can make the story even more firm, or concentrate on getting the continuity and language write, since I've already fleshed the story out.

This seems to me what makes a writer -- the ability not only to tell a story and use evocative language to do so -- but to fill it with these little bits of business, these little connections, these telling details. And I think it comes pretty naturally to me, thank goodness.

So, this has all been a way of learning the best writing process for me, the best writing triggers. After 4 years, I've really refined how I go about things for the best result.

At least, that's the way it feels.

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