anghara (anghara) wrote,

A Writing Meme of Sorts

A Writing Meme from Dave Moles (you can read his blog here - Ten Things I Don't Know About Writing.

Go read, but in the interests of being helpful, here's what the original Moles Ten Things were:

1. How to describe with all five senses.
2. How to get a character across a room.
3. How to have your protagonist learn something without having another character talk about it for six pages. (Failing that: How to get characters talking without sitting them down at a table and serving drinks.)
4. How to write about happy people.
5. How to capture the arc of a relationship — the dynamics of a friendship, or a love affair, or a lifelong hatred, or a family. (I read in Gwenda’s interview with Bennett Madison that Mr. Madson’s next book is “about the very bloody rise and fall of a teenage friendship,” and that scares the daylights out of me.)
6. How to write a scene when you don’t know what should happen in it, only what it should accomplish.
7. How to write a scene when you don’t know what it should accomplish, only what should happen in it.
8. How to measure progress when word count doesn’t tell you anything.
9. How to plot a multi-layered conspiracy theory without it turning into the stupid middle hour of Pirates of the Carribbean 3 where the characters all take turns betraying one another but in the end none of their betrayals has any consequences because the (static!) character relationships trump everything else.
10. How to make the story on the page as good as the one in your head.

Some of those kind of boggle me. I don't know how NOT to write using all the senses; I can get a character across a GALAXY, if need be, not just across a room; my protagonists attend the school of hard knocks and learn things CONSTANTLY, sometimes unwillingly; I write about relationship arcs all the time, and that's what my work is all about; I am ALWAYS writing scenes in which I don't know what is supposed to happen, and am constantly surprised by what I find out, AND vice versa; my novels have multi-layered theories - if not precisely always conspiracies - coming out of the woodwork all the time by definition. Three of his points I'll take:

4. How to write about happy people.
Happy = content. Content = perfectly satisfied with status quo. perfectly satisfied with status quo = no problems. No problems = no conflicts. No conflicts = no plot. And now we're in trouble.

I need to have characters who need to solve some problem in their lives. That's where the story happens. Happy people live in Nirvana, and Heaven, although by all accounts pleasant, doesn't make for gripping storytelling.

8. How to measure progress when word count doesn’t tell you anything.
I don't quite GET that one, but I do, in a nebulous kind of way. I get obsessed with word counts somewhere in the last third of a novel in progress, and it hamstrings me.I know this. I don't quite know how to get out from under it.

10. How to make the story on the page as good as the one in your head.
Anyone come up with an answer to this one, please let me know...

1. How to outline worth a damn, or write a coherent synopsis before I write the book - something that my agent and my editors already know all too well, and roll their eyes in helpless despair when the subject comes up, and roll up their sleeves and help me do it. Because I just don't think that cohesively when it comes to story - it's organic and grows from seed, and I have no clue what happens next.

2. How to keep characters alive, apparently. My husband tells me that he never knew he married such an efficient mass murderer. Heh.

3. How to write to spec - which is why I'll never be a Harlequin author. My stories are all just too much themselves to be stuffed into pigeonholes. GOd help me with the marketing people, because I tend to write... weird genre hopping things sometimes.

4. How to stop using weasel words. Oh, you won't find many of them in the books - but that's because they get viciously edited out at the first or second draft stage. Things like "Seems", "Almost", "nearly", expressions that "look almost like fear", using "may" or "might" when I am perfectly certain of an outcome. Yes I know precisely what I mean. I don't always come out and SAY it.

5. How to QUIT describing. People who like my work call it "lush". We don't want to know what people who don't like it call it. But I am capable of describing a brick for half a page, and a brick wall for two pages. You get a wonderful, vivid idea of my world. You may not want that much detail.

6. How to write sex scenes. I am of the school that closes the door on the bedroom or its equivalent when I get two protagonists together. If I don't then the scene is usually drifty and romantic and, well, full of weasel words. I'm writing YA, currently, so it doesn't quite apply - but I'll be back to grown-up books before too long, and, well, you know. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. And I probably have to figure this one out.

7. How to write happy endings. Dammit, I don't know how to write happy endings. A friend once asked me if I'd ever HEARD of one. But they just... feel Hollywoodish to me. Real people don't stay happy. See that initial comment - there ain't no story there if everyone's happy. And in order for EVERYONE to be happy... SOMEONE has to be unhappy. And the happy people either have to accept that or move away. See "Those who walk away from Omelas". That sort of thing.

8. How to stop using certain "crutch" words. They're different for different novels - for one of them, for instance, a friend and beta reader wanted to know how many times I'd used the word "preternatural" in that particular story. It fit, dammit, and it was the perfect word for what I wanted - but there was so MUCH of it. And I'll find them in other books. The current culprit is "sharp" or "sharply". Aaargh.

9. How to let go. I'm always going back over things. Tweaking. Fixing. Improving. There comes a time I send it out, and the moment I do twenty other things occur to me. Most of them unimportant or trivial, but just... you know. Stuff that could be BETTER. And the story is out the door. Argh.

10. How to stop procrastinating. As in... I have a chapter staring me in the face. I'd better go do THAT instead of blogging [grin]

There you go. Feel free to take it and run with it.
Tags: writing, writing life, writing meme

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