It’s been busy time the last couple of days, and starting this afternoon things will get even busier. I’m starting the move to the new place, and there are only two more nights left in the hotel. By this time next week I’ll be in the new place probably sleeping as crappy as I am now. At least there I can go and sit out on the balcony and relax, maybe even fall asleep in my mesh chair.
Everything should be in place tomorrow, and I may even go over after work and test everything. If it’s working, I’ll be happy. If not–these things happen. We deal, yeah?
Meanwhile, back on the timeline . . .
Last night was a time for listening to old music (Guess Who . . . no, really) and filling in some blanks. And I think I did a pretty good job, as you can see on the right. Sure, there’s more things to come, but this is coming together nicely. I believe I have things laid out to where I now see the flow of the story, the plot is in view, and I’m close to putting things into Scrivener and setting up the parts of the novel. A week ago I wasn’t sure how this would work. After last night, I see where it’s going.
Which brings to mind the question: how did you figure this stuff out? How do you figure out where your story is going? How do you build your characters? Where did you find your voice? They’re all good questions, and it’s easy to explain–
I figured it out by doing.
When I first started writing I had no freakin’ idea what I was doing. All I knew about writing I got from reading. I saw how my favorite writers wrote, and I emulated, I copied style and voice. It’s normal: professional writers tell you they did the same thing when they started. It’s only after they’ve wrote a few stories that they find their own style, their own voice.
I believe I have mine: I’ve been told that my stories and articles are “easy reading” and seem very “personal” in tone. If so, yay. That’s what I wanted. If not . . . give me a few more novels, I’ll get there.
Characters were easy. I’ve been into role playing since 1986, and created lots of characters, playable and otherwise. You want a memorable character for a game, you work on their back story. I used to write these twenty page stories showing how a character got to the point where the game starts; I think the best outline/story I ever did were for two characters I ran in a Cyberpunk game. By the time I was finished with the game, their bio ran sixty-eight pages, or about the length of my first published story.
The time lines, the mind mapping, the plotting . . . I figured that out by playing with stuff, pulling up programs and just doing things. Start small and work up, and before you know it you’re laying out a novel. It’s not something that just jumps out of your forehead like Athena: you gotta work at this shit. You gotta read what other writers are doing; find some writing blogs and look for tips. Buy On Writing and The Midnight Disease and develop ideas. Buy The Elements of Style and On Writing Well and develop your foundation.
Then write. Remember all that’s come before, all that you’ve done, everything that felt write and wrong, and just do it. You just want to wing ever story? Fine, then write. You want the level of detail I have? Fine, go get everything laid out, then write. You want something in between? You know what I’m going to say.
Just like any other new job, you only learn by doing. You can listen to all the advice you like, but in the end you gotta put those words down on a medium for that advice to mean anything. If you’re writing, if you’re actually creating something, you’re a playa. If you’re talking about writing and how you’re gonna write and how you’re almost ready to start, but not just yet ’cause you’re still trying to get ideas from people about how to do XYZ . . . you’re a poseur. I should know: I did the poseur thing for a long time.
Go forth and produce. Sure, it’s all crap when you start–
But it’s your crap.