Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Rambling About 'Perfecting the Craft'

Perfecting the craft. Before I wrote Sunrise on the Pier, I didn't understand what that meant. Now I get that becoming a writer is like starting off on a journey that has no direction and no end. The journey will go wherever and as far as each writer is willing to take it. Scary! ...but I'm lovin' it. :) The starting point isn't important. How lessons are learned isn't important. It's only important that the lessons provide guidance in perfecting the craft. I now see that improvement in the craft of writing is how I get from one point along the road to the next. Woo hoo - happy dance!

So what is the craft of writing? Every writer wants to put something down on paper that inspires readers to choose their work. 'The craft' is how we do that. But what exactly is 'the craft'? Unfortunately (and I know you saw this coming) there is no wrong way or right way to write. Everyone's style is different - so 'the craft' is different for everyone. That's how I see it anyway. All that matters is that the finished work is compelling and gives readers a fulfilling experience. It seems to me that every writer's craft is a work in progress. 'The craft' improves as we apply the lessons we learn.

What's 'the craft' in my case? Not sure - there's only one novel to go by. But that said - I'm making a conscious effort to review everything I did the last time, and see how I can improve on it this time. For example, in Sunrise on the Pier, I wanted everything to be perfect - all at once! So each time I wrote a scene, I rewrote and rewrote until I was sure (more or less) it was the best I could do. :) Then on to the next. Unfortunately for me. that's not how the stories unfold in my brain. Sometimes I got disjointed ideas - wouldn't it be great if Gabrielle rode back to the city with Jarin or - gee let's add Chase as a character instead of just being referred to in conversation. #@*!%%! So then I had to go back and layer those ideas in across several scenes - or in the case of Chase - the whole story! OMG WTF!!! Rewriting and rewriting again. I may have been able to make the story more compelling if I hadn't had to rewrite so much. Lesson well learned. :)

Also last time, I blocked out every scene I thought I would write - and used only about a quarter of them! That's because as I wrote, the story went it's own way - and I decided not to force the scenes that didn't belong. This time, I only blocked out the scenes that give me rough guidance. There's a lot of missing story between the them. That's ok for me - because I know now that my stories change in my head and the scenes shift as I write. This time, I'm a bit more aware of how I think. Also this time, my entire first draft is going to be free form. Narrative, dialogue, whatever works to get the story on paper. Now when a new idea comes up, I add a sentence or a conversation. At worst, I'm only rewriting sentences or conversations. This isn't a first draft I can show to anybody, but it helps me complete the story. I'm sure more ideas will come up as I write. I'm hoping that this time, since I'll have a fully formed first draft the ideas will mostly feed forward as I rewrite. Last time, they all fed backward. Let's see what happens and what I learn this time. In any case, I'll be another novel further along the journey...and then there will be the next!

What do you think - what is 'the craft' to you?

1 comment:

  1. My method of madness for my first MS was just to let it all flow and it did, the first draft ending up over 234,000 words.

    Then I did a content/grammatical/typo editing round and got it down to 205,000. Next I did a word count/contect lipo suction job and got it down to 101,000 words. Now I am on round 3 of editing which I call polishing up and smoothing out the edges.

    For my second MS I am letting it flow as well, but this time around I have a buddy I exchange with weekly, so her feedback helps guide my process. This one will probably be done around 60,000 words and I'm already at about 50,000.

    I am still fien tuning my process/craft at this point. No clue what it is or where it's going.


What do you think? Please leave a comment. Luv the feedback!