Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Some Thoughts on Writing

1. Writing is never wasted. Sometimes I just write individual scenes involving characters or settings, without really trying to make them a story. Often, some of these scenes later tie themselves together in various stories, although they usually need to be revised to fit. I have a computer file called “Parts,” where I keep such unconnected scenes.

2. Related to the above, I started pretty early to keep a kind of "Encyclopedia" for each invented world I came up with. This would have brief descriptions of characters, races, plants, animals, cities, etc. It’s fun to do and also helps me hold the disparate threads of stories or settings together in my head where my unconscious can  work on them. Some of these kinds of elements end up in my dreams because of that.

3. Remember that "you can write ugly" when you begin. The 'story' doesn't have to be anything publishable when it first comes out onto the page. Writing allows you time to fix all that stuff later. I find that the act of writing itself often generates a flow of creativity and things come out better than I would have thought when I was just 'thinking' of the story.

4. Related to #3, writing is really "rewriting." I've learned to enjoy it. I never have anything come out right when I first put it down, but I have confidence that I'll be able to fix it down the line.

5. A story idea belongs to you. Just because you’ve written it one way doesn’t mean you can’t rewrite it in another way. I’ve taken stories that I wrote early in my career and revised them based on experience, sometimes turning the core into a completely new story, and sometimes just an expansion of an original tale. Many writers do this. Poul Anderson and Louis L’Amour spring to mind. I have multiple versions of some stories, either with different endings, or just ones that were better developed as I grew in experience.


6. Reading a story is like flying over a landscape in a plane. Writing that story is trudging the ground, going up and down the hills, fighting through the underbrush, wading the streams. It's a lot more difficult but one experience can't replace the other.  When I first started out, I sometimes took really strong scenes by other writers, such as Howard, or Bradbury, and typed them out for myself to get a feel for sentence length, paragraph length, etc. 

17 comments:

oscar case said...

Nice points to ponder, Charles. Your "Parts" idea is fine way to compile sections, chapters, or just general narrative for use later on.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My first book was a complete rewrite.
Smart idea to keep a file of parts.
Merry Christmas, Charles!

Cloudia said...

" Reading a story is like flying over a landscape in a plane. Writing that story is trudging the ground, going up and down the hills, fighting through the underbrush, wading the streams. It's a lot more difficult but one experience can't replace the other."

This post, and that fabulous piece above, really get to the root of what writing really IS! I'm off to share this post. thanks for the gift. Wishing you both a fabulous season

Stephen Parrish said...

Love these, especially the last one.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, I've had to break my parts file into a couple of files now to keep it to a manageable level.

Alex, Merry Christmas, as well. Thanks for visiting.

Cloudia, thankee. Glad you enjoyed.

Stephan, much appreciated.

Loni Townsend said...

I totally had to redo the second half of my first book, and that was a completely different story than my original version. But that's the freedom of writing, right?

David Cranmer said...

I write something just about every day of my life and sometimes just journal entries on my day. It's obviously a need in us, Charles! From the gods.

G. B. Miller said...

Most of my slushies are simply parts that grew exponentially. Currently, I'm re-working one of those slushies as my next project. Definitely an adventure in verbiage.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

I Are Writer!

sage said...

Merry Christmas, Charles. Good ideas--I'll have to pull out your book on writing and review it.

the walking man said...

I have been writing an awful long time or awfully for a time(meh, one t' other) but lately I have expended far more words and effort on research based editorializing for them that have no clue. A bad day is 100+ words a good day = none.

Charles Gramlich said...

Loni, the nearest thing we can get to to pure creation! Thanks for visiting.

David, yes, can't keep away from putting the words down. Some need for sure.

G. B., I haven't looked at my parts file in a while. Got too many working ideas right now. Merry Christmas.

Sage, Merry Christmas to you as well. Hope it's a great one.

Mark, I've had 100 word days. During the school year I tend to average around 300. Not much for sure.

Jenny Baranick said...

It's great that you are so organized. I have parts of pieces written in in notebooks that I know I will never find again. Also, your tip about writing out others' strong scenes makes so much sense. I will try that.

Danny Tagalog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danny Tagalog said...

Charles. Nice coincidence that you have broached the topic of re-writing. I had just re-written a post on coincidences and then you, unexpectedly, left a message. I have been away from blogger for some time, but time has opened up now, and I look forward to reading your posts and other posts from this writing community, plus using this medium to sharpen myself up. Was funny looking back at my old posts, they were quaintly naïve; filled with good ideas, but often lousily executed. Yet ripe, very ripe, for re-structuring. The more I think about it, the more I realise how I have missed the Blogger community, but I hope that I can contribute and re-acquaint myself with some old- and much-valued blogger pals. Happy Christmas to you and yours!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I like the idea of writing something every day or as often as possible without the intention of publishing it and then rewriting all of it and making a book out of it. You give me hope.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and Lana!

Riot Kitty said...

I love your point about how nothing is wasted. However...I can't wrote ugly. I am what Kurt Vonnegut called a basher.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jenny. Well, the organization is not total. I still stumble on stuff at times I'd forgotten. Thanks for the visit.

Danny, good to see you. It's been a while. I hope all is well.

Prashant, thanks, man. Hope you have a great end of the year as well.

Riot Kitty, well you should probably listen to Vonnegut over me. :)