Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't Rush Things

One thing I'm learning--and re-learning--is to not rush my writing. So often I do the bare minimum of planning and outlining because I would rather be writing the story. Perhaps I'm more of an organic writer than I would like to admit. However, whenever I do stop my outlining short I find that the scenes I write are not as compelling as I feel they could be. I end up taking short cuts only to get the scene written. When I take the time to slow down both my scene planning and scene writing I find that those sections have more depth than when I give in and rush to writing.

I hope that as I continue writing I can better pace myself so that I can get better scenes written. It is something I need to learn. I also feel that subconsciously I'm focused more on getting published rather than telling stories. That will be a difficult thought to break I think.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Series of Short Stories

I recently read somewhere that a novel can be viewed as a series of short stories. I think that I heard this before, but it did not have the impact on me then as it has now. Thinking of a novel in this way has some benefits (for me perhaps).

First, thinking of a novel this way may allows me to work on one piece of the work at a time. Since I am someone who likes structure that can be quite useful. I can then concentrate on one short story at a time and truly get a feel for the events that take place within that portion of the novel.

Second, this may help me because there would always be an explicit story arc to grab the reader's interest. Each of these mini story arcs can help a story move along. In addition, breaking a novel in this way could help me focus better on creating tension on every page.

How many short stories a novel can be broken down into depends upon how the novel is organized. Using a three act structure presents several options.

  • 2 short stories (acts 1 and 3) and a novella (act 2)
  • 4 short stories (one for acts 1 and 3; two for act 2)
  • 8 flash fiction stories (two for acts 1 and three; four for act 2)

Although these "short stories" would not be true short stories by definition of word count it shows the general concept I'm trying to portray. The first two options can be useful for novels that need a slower pace (e.g. epic fantasy). The final option could be useful for faster paced novels (e.g. thrillers). My current novel may be fit better with the first two options I think.

I am still experimenting on how to structure and plan my writing. Every day I read advice on blogs and workshops on how other writers are able to write successful novels and stories. Some of this advice has helped me whereas some just does not work for me. I am finishing up the first act of my current novel in progress so I may look at this break down as an option for my next act.