Monday, October 11, 2010
Motivational Monday - On finding the way
"That's the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they've been all along. ~Madeleine L'Engle"
This weekend I went to Wordstock, a literary festival in Portland, and listened to a few YA authors talk about writing and their books. One thing that always fascinates me is how hungry people are for information as to how to get a book written. And it seems to me, now that I've been in the audience a number of times, listening to authors talk and answer questions, that we ask authors to talk about their writing process again and again, as if there is some secret key that will unlock the mystery for us.
I think writers new to the experience of writing a novel believe somewhere in the back of their mind that there must be a right way and a wrong way. And more than wanting to do it the right way, they are very afraid of doing it the wrong way.
Yesterday, Becca Fitzpatrick, author of HUSH, HUSH said she uses note cards and writes scene after scene on them, and shuffles them around, trying to find the right order, then begins writing, only to eventually throw them all away and start again with new note cards containing new scenes. She said she may do this three or four times while she's writing a book.
L.K. Madigan, author of FLASH BURNOUT and THE MERMAID'S MIRROR, defined her process as plunge, persist, and polish. That is, plunge into the story, persist through the murky middle when it gets hard, and use revision (lots of revision, she said) to polish the manuscript when it's done.
For me, every book is different. Some books beg to be discovered as I go along (My first novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was very much a discovery novel). Other books want me to have a good plan in place so I can write quickly and efficiently (with SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, I had a brief summary of what each chapter would be about before I started writing). Some books, like my current WIP, are a combination of discovery and planning.
And it's perfectly okay to begin one way and decide a different way would serve the story better.
So, here is the big news - there is no right or wrong. There is only different. And like everything else in life, it's up to you to figure out what will work best for you.
I know we often long for someone to shine the light and show us the way. Especially when we're in that murky middle. My advice? Trust in yourself. Listen to your characters. Have faith. And as Lisa said, persist. I often tell myself when it gets really hard, there is no way out but through.
This week, you may want to try note cards. You may want to try a chapter-by-chapter summary. You may want to write and discover your story as you go along.
But whatever way you choose - persist!