Monday, January 22, 2007

Martyr to the Craft

Thankfully, have now reached the point where the book is pretty much writing itself, and the end is in sight. (Still quite a long way off-- in fact little more than a speck in the distance, but just about discernible on a clear day if you have extremely good eyesight. And binoculars.) The fact that I'm not still stuck in endless revision of the first 3 chapters is, I'm delighted to say, entirely thanks to Amanda and is absolute proof that meeting up with friends and indulging heavily in champagne and chocolate trifle is an essential aid to the writer's craft. You see, it was on the occasion of our thrusting literary power-lunch before Christmas that she let me into the secret of the 'fast draft' tecnique.

Basically (according to my personal writing guru and soon-to-be bestselling author Amanda-- 'You Had Me At Halo' coming out in August 2007) you just start writing and don't stop. Don't edit. Don't spend 45 minutes poring over Roget's Theasaurus for just the right word (she recommends the use of thingy where you can't think of the word you want. In some cases I actually found that, once I'd written it, thingy did indeed turn out to be just the right word...) Don't torment yourself over a scene that isn't flowing-- just break and fill in some brief notes then move on. And what made the biggest difference to me-- don't ever read yesterday's work. Halleluijah. And in that small sentence I was released from my 3 month cycle of spending one day writing, and the next day deleting and re-writing.

So, it's on its way, and I'm totally loving my new hero-- to the extent that I'm actually considering changing the heroine's name to India and making her a statuesque (I think artistic license would make that an acceptable alternative to 'matronly'?) 36 year old mother of three whose talents include nit control and hoovering up Polly Pocket accessories. Of course, there's always the very real risk that when I do go back and allow myself to read over what I've written I'm going to discover that a) the whole book is utter rubbish and b) I've subconsciously already substituted myself for the heroine, and will have to go through changing the I to she and the me to her on every page.

It was, incidentally, in the same selfless spirit of dedication to our art that drove Annie and I to meet up for lunch on Friday, drink lovely wine, giggle inordinately and gorge ourselves on tapas. Research, you see. Who knows when one might have a tricky Peking Duck-eating scene to handle?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

So that's the trick: generous use of the word "thingy."

I'm glad that things are going well for you - projection into the heroine's POV, or not.

Looking forward to meeting the drool-worthy hero, and reading the teasing tidbits of your new...dang it, what's the word...thingy? no, no, let me check Roget's...ah, yes...your novel.

2:53 pm  
Blogger Annie said...

Worry not, India. You can always re-package it as an autobiography. I hear nit-picking, Polly-pocket-hoover-upping, wine-drinking, Peking Duck-eating, gorging, giggling, statuesque, 36 year old women are all the rage in Thingy.

Unfortunately, however, I'm also given to understand that the indigenous people of Thingy do like their heroines to have sampled the delights of double-death-by-chocolate-fudge-cake
and I am therefore very afraid that we may have to sacrifice ourselves at the altar of JL's little cafeteria some time soon.

(The things one must do for one's art.)

9:42 pm  
Blogger Stacy Dawn said...

Ah yes. I am just figuring out this technique myself. My favorite 'just the right word' is somethingorother LOL

11:52 pm  
Blogger India said...

'Somethingorother' is a great word. Longer than thingy, which is obviously good. Think I might spend the rest of the afternoon going back through my ms and replacing all the 'thingy's with 'somethingorother's. Will maybe gain ten pages by the time I have to pick up the kids...

3:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also try: do-hickey, whatchamacallit, or my favorite: whosamawhatsitthingamabob. That one alone should get you to the end of your ms.

5:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh right, also, I think that at some point, the heroine should be called on to disarm a bomb in the frozen Canadian north - and she'll need to stop by Montreal to get...umm...oh! a special kind of maple syrup that will, ah, coat the wires on the bomb and make the disarming that much easier....remember, it's research and the plane tickets for you, Eva and Annie are tax-deductible.

5:52 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

Horror of horrors, I've been doing it all wrong, crossing Ts and dotting Is all the way!
However, I have been known to end a chapter (at least temporarily) with blah, blah, blah. Yet another one for your list, India.

6:03 pm  
Blogger Amanda Ashby said...

I live to serve, India! And if a few thingys (and yes, Eva, the blah de blah de blahs work just as well) help to get an alpha male of supreme hotness out of your grubby mind and onto the computer screen, then that is reward enough for me!!!

10:27 pm  
Blogger India said...

Oh yes, blah blah blah-- I've just tripled my word count at a stroke. Genius, Eva.

Brown, you just had to do it, didn't you? You just had to mention.... maple syrup. There's now absolutely NO chance that I'm going to be able to concentrate on anything else today, which given that I have a sex scene to write, could be interesting...

How's the finger, Amanda? Hope it'll be up to a bit of heavy-duty cake eating with Annie and me soon...

9:35 am  

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