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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Out on a Limb

NaNoWriMo starts in just a few days.

I’ve tried writing on and off over the years; correction, I’ve tried writing down story ideas. I spend time brainstorming, creating character backgrounds, etc. I’ve always had this idea in my head that you have to know exactly where you’re going and how the story is going to end before you start writing. I’ve come up with some passable ideas, I think, but creating the story arc and the ending has always eluded me. So the ideas remain just little scraps of paper.

I just finished reading On Writing, by Stephen King. I picked it up pretty much on a whim at a used bookstore more than six months ago. And I’ve been hesitating to pick it up for some time — not sure why. I think it’s because reading about writing feels like cheating somehow; if you want to write, just write!

The “aha” moment for me from King’s book is the idea that you don’t have to have your story figured out before you start writing. All you need is the “What if?” question: What if vampires invaded a small New England town? The result is Salem’s Lot.

Now, it scares me to death to think about this approach. How can I write if I don’t know where I’m going? The analogy King uses is that your story is like a buried artifact. As you excavate, your story unfolds. He actually argues that there’s more creativity in writing this way than less. You may not know what’s going to happen, but that’s where the fun is for the writer.

I’m willing to give it a try. After all, this is advice coming from one of the world’s greatest modern storytellers. It’s a formula that has clearly worked for him. My method hasn’t exactly been working, so it’s time for something different. I have a story idea, a main character and a setting. The only thing left to do is start writing on November 1.

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All About the Gothic

So I’m still considering ideas for NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned in a previous post, I definitely want to do something gothic. It’s set in modern day, probably either in a museum, historic house or on a college campus.

I am shamelessly trolling for ideas. Anyone have a particular gothic element or idea that they’d like to see in a novel? I’m not looking for anything specific (because of course I’m going to get published and become rich and famous and then be subject to a copyright suit [kidding!]). But things like ancient curses, ghosts, a madwoman in an attic — what’s your favorite?

Throw me your ideas, people. I’m the type of writer who needs a clear outline so I know where I’m going. And there’s only two weeks left before writing starts on November 1.

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Now, I know I can’t do this. But I’m sure there are plenty of other knitters who can. November, in addition to being National Novel Writing Month, is also National Knit a Sweater Month. The goal for NaKniSweMo is to knit a 50,000-stitch sweater in 30 days.

In a strange way, this actually makes NaNoWriMo appear to be easier. I never thought that would be possible!

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Reading Update

I haven’t blogged much lately about what I’ve been reading. I finished The Painted Veil and it was interesting. Not what I expected (but that was mostly going by the previews of the movie). I’ve never read Maugham before; he had some interesting phrasing. The prepositional phrases always seemed to be in odd parts of the sentence, really not where you were expecting them. It actually forced me to slow down when reading, which is good. On a first read, I usually go pretty fast because I want to see what happens next! Slowing down allows you to get more out of the story.

I’ve also been reading lots of journal articles about Gothic fiction. I’m tempted to sign up for NaNoWriMo this year. If I do, I want to write something with a gothic feel to it. I was going to read Jane Eyre again, but decided the better bet was to learn more about the Gothic novel instead. That’s one of the (few) benefits of working on a public university campus. Lots of good resources electronically and access to millions of volumes via interlibrary loan. I’m currently working my way through Romance and the Erotics of Property. Looks like it’s a Marxist and Feminist criticism of modern romance novels; but there’s some history as well, so it may help a little.

I don’t know: 50,000 words in 30 days sounds pretty scary. Anyone else attempting it this year?

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