Friday, September 29, 2006

Writing Resources: A Biographical Dictionary

At first glance, this biographical dictionary had no importance to me as a budding writer of fiction. I don't enjoy reading biographies -- don't ask me why -- and I certainly would not want to write someone's biography.

But then I thought a little bit more about the information presented; e.g. for David Beckham

These snapshots of people's lives make an excellent starting point for the following, in my opinion:
  • A character profile (obviously)
  • A story-line
Even David Beckham who, by most measures, is a very successful man, had his fair share of conflict and obstacles to overcome, some of which can be gleaned from his brief bio.

I suggest (and I'm talking to myself here) doing a random search and seeing what you find.

Friday, September 22, 2006

'How To' Reading List

In no particular order, and books found doing whilst searching on Amazon UK:
  • How To Write A Damn Good Novel, by James N. Frey
  • How To Write & Sell Your First Novel, by Oscar Collier with Frances Spatz Leighton
  • The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham
I also read an ebook called: How To Write A Book, Quickly by Nick Daws.

And I read The Internet: A Writer's Guide, by Jane Dorner. But I know about the internet, and I know that writing books about the internet usually doesn't work, as they get out of date far too quickly. So I don't recommend this book.

When it comes to the 'how to write a novel' books listed above, now that's a different story (apologies).

Strangely, even though they were all written by different authors with very different styles, and different emphases on the art of writing, all the books above were useful. I recommend them all, particularly if you don't want your novel to be a masterpiece. (I also recommend Nick Daws ebook, simply because I only need to commit 28 days to the process, and it contained lots and lots of smart short-cuts to the process of writing and generating ideas.)

Agreed, I haven't written a novel yet. But when I do, I will base my efforts on what I learned from these books, especially Nick Daws ebook.

As for the benefits of reading 'how to' books, again you can learn by doing, or you can learn by 'reading about doing'. I usually choose the latter option every time, but can see the value in the 'learn by doing' method too. Because, ultimately, writing is doing.


Whilst I appreciate that planning isn't writing, it's the nature of this particular non-writing beast that not-planning guarantees my not writing (alas). So, looking at my notes (my plan in paper form as it were), I see that I actually had wanted to Have a BIG Story Idea (see below) in Feb. 2006 - and it's now nearly October.

That is disappointing. Still, I'm very pleased to announce to both you and me...

My Writing Plan: Start writing novel in January 2007

Now, the do-ers and engineers amongst you might ask: why not write today?

The thinkers and reflectors amongst you would understand.

And the procrastinators would cheer (eventually).

I know, I know. But small steps - allow me to take small steps, please.

If I'm being honest, I am slightly terrified (oops, yet another wrong word combination!) of starting to write my first novel. That's why I've put off looking at my writing plan for several months, because it would mean that, yes, I could get started!

So, here's the plan(*). I'm going to commit to it. You have my word.
  1. "You could get started"
    For me this translates to start writing this (and other) blogs.
  2. Write!
    Update my blogs, and my various diaries (online journals)
  3. Learn how to write better
    - Read novels on subjects similar to what I want to write about
    - Read about other writers (their experience and motivations)
    - Attend writing classes and workshops
    - Talk to other writers
    - Read 'how to write a novel' - see my 'How To' Reading List
    - Read about writing via online websites, ezines etc.
    - Read magazines, newspapers etc. with a particular eye for writing ideas be it character photos, situations, character types etc.
  4. Have a BIG STORY idea
    Develop it in terms of point of view, setting and no. of characters
  5. Find a good place to write
  6. Make time to write - get organised
  7. Write, write, write! Right?
    - Do the necessary research, and prepare an outline
    - Write my 1st draft - 1000 words a day
    - Rewrite, revise and polish the manuscript
  8. Get the book published!
    Research into and identify two or more literary agents or publishers I believe will want to publish my novel (identify individuals)
  9. Create a personalised submission package
  10. Send my novel to a publisher/agent and get it accepted
  11. Go to the bookstore and pick up my book
    (Try not to look too smug. Remember, JK Rowling.)
I can't tell you how motivating it is just to publish this plan on this blog.

Writing my novel, or rather starting to write my novel feels much more likely, because of it.

Now published writers and those struggling to get their novel published will probably be amused at the emphasis I've made on some of the above activities. A lot of detail existing for straight-forward tasks, perhaps, and hardly any detail existing where it really matters.

Well, this is my world view of writing. My attempt to write my first novel. My thoughts about the process as experienced at the time.

I'm sure if it doesn't quite work like that, I will be sure to find out sooner or later.

Here's to planning, to writing plans, and to writing!

Note: the plan above is based on backward-planning some of the key activities involved in writing a novel, gleaned from the books mentioned above. I'm sure every writer has a different way. Mine might change too. But I have to start somewhere. And, yes, it beats writing (today)! :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Not Writing

I really do have to be more disciplined with myself about writing. I have spent all of the Fridays since my last post working rather than writing.

I nearly managed to persuade myself to do the same again, today.

I guess the trick is to convince myself that I like writing (I do, don't I?), and that spending a whole day 'writing' is actually fun. I wonder why I don't think like that. I wonder why most of what I do on my 'writing' day is not writing.

Perhaps I don't really want to write a novel after all.

(We shall see.)