Monday, March 1, 2010

The Slowest Writer on Earth?

I really must own that title. Who writes more slowly than I? As a copywriter, and later as a journalist, I churned out copy like a meat grinder. Chewed up all those ideas, and g-r-r-r-r out they came onto the plate, fully formed, coherent (mostly) stuff by the ream. But in fiction, I have spent too much time fretting about the fact that I don't know what I'm doing. I've never written a book! My specialty is generally 800 words or less. 1,200 words per article when a certain magazine asked, and I found that number daunting at first.

Now, I'm working on tens of thousands of words, for pete's sake, and have to worry about arc, characterization, dialog, subplots, and a number of other things I don't even have names for. Things have to make sense when I first put them down, and also a hundred pages or more later on. This is frightening! When I first started the story, it was just a paragraph that popped into my mind with a "what if" attached. Then a few scenes began to bug me, so I put them all down on the page and over the years cut out half of the copy and moved around most of the rest. I can't even remember when I started "The Fictional Writer." I think it was sometime before my daughter was born and she's 12 now! It was in very different form then, too, of course.

But the bottom line is that I think I've learned enough now (I sure HOPE so!) that I have a better idea where I'm going. I mostly need to flesh out the bones I've uncovered. (See previous post re. Stephen King.) And the second novel, begun recently, is moving much more easily. Writing the two in tandem is proving helpful because they are interrelated and sort of feed off of one another.

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