There are oodles and oodles of writing books out in there in the world of printed text, offering advice on crafting a plot or writing practise or generally how to get that book out of your head onto the page, usually with the intent of becoming the next JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett or JRR Tolkien. Or bigger than all three if you have a mind to become something all powerful in the literary world – today the bookshop, tomorrow the world, the next day the universe!
I’m telling you, this is how evil pan-galactic empires are born …
Moving swiftly on …
However, having purchased one (which has explained some of the technical aspects of writing which I wasn’t quite aware of) and read a few others, the only thing I can see is that you need to be organised. Okay, two things as you also need to have an idea to begin with, but I assumed that was a given since, you know, you can’t write a novel about nothing. That’s what these Random Wednesday blog posts are for. But it does leave me feeling that if I can’t organise my novel into some sort of order using cards or a linear document during prep, then my novel will never get off the ground. Maybe that’s just the muse talking when real life has once again kicked him where it hurts, but sometimes it seems it’d be easier to just call it quits and try something else. Unfortunately, he’s a stubborn little thing, so I’m still here.
I stumbled across something Garth Nix put up on his website (garthnix.co.uk ) which rang true with some of the ways I’ve attempted to write over the years (years … oh boy …). If you’re interested, you should check out How I Write: The Process of Creating a Book and Nine Stages of a Novel. You might find some tips that’ll help you too.
Currently TFatM is being written in a Paperblanks notebook or on the PC using Black Obelisk Software’s Liquid Story Binder and MS Word (sometimes watching the timer tick away just makes me sad). Most of my development notes are in the notebook which I was given as a gift for this purpose (not for this novel, but for novel ideas in general) and it’s been really helpful in providing a space where I can jot ideas down when I’m out and about. I’ve usually carried a notebook with me for the various projects I’ve attempted, but they’ve usually ended up cluttered and full of random assortments which just haven’t worked.
Once I’ve got something down that I want to work with, I type it up into the Liquid Story Binder portfolio of TFatM which is then resaved onto my memory pen at the end of the session. It’s one of the things I love about the piece of software – it’s pretty nifty and can do all sorts of things to help store or organise ideas, yet it’s small enough to be run off a USB pen. Pretty smart. Not sure how it works, but I’m impressed.
I trialled Liquid Story Binder when I was working on One Thousand Days, my 2009 nanowrimo attempt (the certificate for which is still proudly pinned to my notice board in my office) and I’d encourage you to see if the software works for you – the trial lasts for 30 days of use, not 30 calendar days of existence. I found the ability to write chunks or chapters and then reorganise things at a later date useful, as well as create separate notes on stuff that was going on, time lines and character profiles – though I’m probably not using the full potential of this tool.
Eventually I hope to have a digital record of my world building as well as the snippets of stuff typed up to be poked and prodded at a later date – and passed by a beta reader for input, thoughts or for a feel good pick me up. Knowing people out there want to read the stuff I’m writing definitely gives me a kick in the right direction.
Looking ahead, it might be a bit of a long shot to have an even passable draft for Summerfest (Springfest is definitely out due to current real life stuff as well as making those little bits of kit I want to have to hand), but if I can just get these ideas down in some sort of coherent form, then I might be okay.
Otherwise I’m breaking out the cue cards, writing down chunks and organising things the old fashioned way!
When I’m working I usually have a number of playlists playing in the background. I struggle to work in silence and I usually need something to drown out the constant buzz of ideas or internal conversation going round my head as well as drowning out the sounds of the world around me – be it the people upstairs moving around or my OH in the next room playing on the xbox or working on gear for FnH – even if I can’t hear him work, feeling the floor vibrating as he hammers rivets can be a more than a little distracting.
Typical music for TFatM ranges from Original Movie Soundtracks (Lord of the Rings, Spirit, Lord of the Dance, The Eagle) through classical music (various celtic and easy listening albums) to folk artists (Kate Rusby, Seth Lakeman) and my current repetitive listening tracks – these are a couple of CDs by Casting Crowns, Caledonia from Spirit of the Glen and several tracks by Owl City via youtube.