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Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Process

I’ve been mulling this over. It was part of an e-mail I got, in response to a remark I'd made to a friend, about his comfort level with professional writing.

He wrote: “And I'm not sure I ever want to become too comfortable either. I know I'm comfortable enough once I find the heat of the words. But outside of that...the comfort of knowing my process…”

“The comfort of knowing my process” really stayed with me. And I thought about what my process was, if I had one. I think I’m trying everything once. Since I didn’t know the beginning of the story, I started in the middle, with a fairly linear approach. But once I started coming up against some pretty big gaps – There were places I had to skip because I didn’t know what was going to happen – I switched to writing the parts I was sure of. One day I got to this great line and I knew it was my last line.

So then I had to go back and start hooking things up, writing segues and deciding, like with a movie, when to cut to the next scene, and what that should be; the order of events. And like with the rhythm of the words, I had to find a rhythm for switching scenes. The work I sent to my teacher had the third edit and that was adding the description and changing from present to past tense. I really prefer using both tenses, even though I know that’s the kiss of death. I don’t mean in the same sentence but, for the sake of immediacy, I like to switch into first.

I started writing 1500 words a day. This was for Nanowrimo. Every morning I’d edit what I wrote the day before. And I like to do it that way. But when I went back, after about four months – I wasn’t doing anywhere near 1500 words during the holidays – I found all kinds of things that needed fixing, things that had looked okay the next morning. I fuss with stuff a lot and I think it keeps getting better. But I know there comes a point when I can look at something one too many times and can’t tell shit about it. So I stay way away from that.

Because my story covers so many years, I am looking at a way to have the early years be backstory instead of the beginning. And I’m getting into this thing where the characters have secrets from each other, as a way to create tension. So much to learn.

So how do YOU do it? What works for you?

posted by sitting Tao @ Sunday, June 26, 2005


  1. At Sunday, June 26, 2005, Blogger Kathy Holmes said…

    I do the same thing. Write each scene separately and then have to string them together. And when I feel like I've read it too many times, I have to take a break. Sounds like you're right on track. :)


  2. At Sunday, June 26, 2005, Blogger sitting Tao said…

    I totally forgot to mention and thank Lynn for recommending Christopher Vogler's "The Writer's Journey." It was the perfect thing for me to read but it's taking me forever because every other page is some crucial thing I have to think about.


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