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Sage advice about writing you've been given over the years

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Jess A, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Share the writing advice you have been given over the years.

    Ten years ago, I used to correspond with author Robin Hobb regularly via email. She told me to write for at least ten minutes every single day, even if you don't feel like it. Get into a habit.
     
  2. Guru Coyote

    Guru Coyote Archmage

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    The best advice I have been given lately is to:
    * write about 3 pages daily (750 words)
    * be prepared to simply throw these away

    The trick is to "write as if it didn't count" - that will allow ideas to flow freely.

    The second part of this advice was:
    "What you have written once, you can write again."
    In combination with the "throwaway" approach to writing, this means you can hash out a scene etc. and just get it out. And later, when you want to write the actual, clean version, you just sit down and write it again, from memory. Your memory is much better in retaining what is good and leaving out what is bad about your scene than copy and past :)
     
    Jess A likes this.
  3. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Good stuff.

    I tend to re-write scenes. However, for me, it can become almost counter-productive. Some scenes I have re-written so many times from memory that I wonder how much I've strayed from the story. But, to counter what I just said, it is also a great tip because for me, I am still working out a lot of the finer plot details. So when I rewrite a scene, I come to that scene with a different context than I did before. That context being knowledge of the newer plot points and even a better idea of the characters.
     
  4. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    My mother gave some good advice: 'Give up.'
     
  5. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    She sounds charming.
     
  6. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

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    Best story advice I've ever received: It's all about the character's goal.
     
  7. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

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    Understand the rules. Then break them.
     
  8. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

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    I do this. A kind of evolutionary cycle...takes longer but it feels more complete.
     
  9. Guru Coyote

    Guru Coyote Archmage

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    Oh yeah, that's a good one. Usually when I get stuck with a story, I can sit back and find that I have no idea why the characters are doing what they do... time to muse on that one.
     
  10. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Troubadour

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    Every character is in a story for a reason...to accomplish something. If they are not working toward accomplishing that thing, why are they there?

    Movement, escalation, progression. If you stay on track with your character goals, most everything else will fall into place naturally, and the less you have to worry about.
     
  11. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Yes true. The nice thing about writing your first novel is that there is no time limit except that which I set myself. Deadlines will come later with potential success.
     
  12. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Motive is always an important factor in designing characters for me. It certainly helped to define my plot and fill in the numerous plot holes.
     
  13. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    From Stephen King:

    “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”
     
  14. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Great one, Chime. I also believe strongly in writing for myself - enriching my life, as King says. And hopefully other lives too.
     
  15. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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  16. WyrdMystic

    WyrdMystic Inkling

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    I do that and would add a warning - for some it is really helpful, for others it can be an anchor weighing you down. A little of both for me - sometimes I reach my goals without battaing an eyelid. Others I just stare at the spreadsheet thinking 'oh crap'.

    For me, I flow better when I haven't looked at my target sheet, but get great pleasure in filling it in when I'm done for the day.
     
  17. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    That's not a bad idea. If I get in a rut, I might give that idea a shot. Could be a great way to motivate when the pen is stuck on the page.
     
  18. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I keep a spreadsheet which I update daily with the number of words written that day, accumulated total word count, & any days missed with the reason why.

    It really helps me hold myself accountable. I know exactly how productive or unproductive I've been over a certain period. I know how far ahead (or behind) schedule I am on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Also, as I've neared the halfway point of my current WIP, I can estimate a completion date based off of the previous period of work.
     
  19. Guru Coyote

    Guru Coyote Archmage

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    Keeping track of daily word-count sure is a good motivator to keep writing... but a word of caution: word-count is not a very good measurement for productivity. 10000 words that need three re-writes to be usable are nothing compared to 7000 words that were right the first time.
     
  20. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    That depends. Even Ray Bradbury argued that quantity equals quality. By that, he simply meant that the more you write, the better you'll become.

    This also depends on what, as the writer, works for you. Some people do better writing with a greater emphasis towards getting a cleaner manuscript the first time through while others tend to do more during revision.

    Either way, the idea of tracking word count for accountability isn't really about what is actually produced (at least from the start). It's about creating a habit. If you can get into the habit of writing daily, to where you REALLY notice it when you don't write, you'll likely become a stronger writer. A tracking spreadsheet, for me, is merely a tool to establish habit with the additional benefit of record keeping on productivity.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2012
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