Monday, August 23, 2010

learn as you go

my dad (AKA the blogging police) pointed out i've been slacking here.

perhaps that's because i'm in a bit of a "path-to-publishing" lull. the agent search is over; the submission nail-biting has yet to begin. i just don't have a lot of insight to share during this brief limbo stage.

instead, i've been studying and learning. and by that - i mean writing.
i learn something new with every book, and i thought i'd share a few of those lessons here.

Sammy Vegas
the first real novel i ever attempted to write taught me:
  • without an outline, my stories amble off course and never get finished.
  • writing a book is time-consuming and requires some sacrifices to find that time.
  • most important, it taught me: maybe i don't suck at this, and maybe i kind of love it... a lot.
Losers (Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah)
the first novel i ever finished taught me:
  • a good hook/concept is nothing without a well-planned plot.
  • third person with multiple MCs is not the right format for me.
  • most important, it taught me: i can get to "The End," and even then the book might not be good enough... and that's actually okay, because i have this other idea...
the first novel i ever queried taught me:
  • how to edit - really edit. cut scenes, re-order chapters, insert new story elements and completely rewrite multiple chapters from scratch... all after i thought i was "done."
  • what kind of stories i want to write and what i really want to say.
  • most important, it taught me: finishing a book is really just the beginning. and with any luck, this one's not done yet.
Billy D. & the Bully (working title)
the book i'm writing right now taught me:
  • not every book gets written at the same pace; not every book is built via the same process (for me anyway).
  • writing is the best distraction from all that "path-to-publishing" neurosis.
  • most of all, it taught me: ....well, i don't know the "most of all" yet. i'll let ya know when i'm all done. ;)
one of the many things my agent and i talked about before signing was how every book you write is important. maybe it's not the book you query; maybe it's not the book that sells; but you had to write it for a reason. sometimes you just don't know what that reason is until you're done.

what about you? what have you learned from your own writing?


McD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
McD said...

I have written two novels. I LOVE the writing process and telling a story. Unfortunately I lack the drive and desire to do the real work.

Polish and editing kick my ass!!!!

Nicole Thomas said...

Couldn't agree more with this. Just from the three stories I have written this year, I've learned so much compared to years before.

I learned how to really edit, that -ly words are not so good, that using he said/she said is okay and is actually the norm. I also learned how to write my first query, the synopsis and to look at my story as if it were a book on the shelf. Would I pick it up? Would I read the first few pages? Would I buy it?

Sage said...


I hope I'm learning as I go for each novel, but I'm not sure I could outline it like you have here.

(Also, my sister is my blogging police)

Anonymous said...

brilliant post. I learn something new from every new project I start.

Lindsay said...

Hi - I came over from the OPWFT thread in AW (I'm Lindzy1954). Great post. It reminds us all everything we write has a purpose and is valuable. Good luck when you get to submissions and keeps us all updated!