Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hitting 50K will take some work

I'm writing along in "The Lyons' Den" and things are moving forward if not as perfectly as I'd like...when I realize I'm just under 10,000 words and about 30% through the story.  Meaning it'll probably top off at between 35,000 and 40,000 words.  That's short for a novel.  Still, I suppose it's better to have a starting point of something that needs adding to than being taken from, because I've found I cannot cut my work, at all.  I can rearrange it.  Hone it to as fine a point as I want...but I've had little success in cutting things down.  Leastwise, what I'd call success.

I went to a meeting of other writers here in Buffalo who are participating in NaNoWriMo -- I was 1 of 2 men in the midst of a dozen women...and I don't think the other guy was there as a writer -- and this one woman repeated something she'd heard from another writer.  Once he was done with his story, he'd look at it and ask himself what he could cut to make it more streamlined without losing the thread of the story.  It sort of ties into the adage that you should "Kill your children when you write."  And I don't agree with it.  At all.

I know that's heresy as regards writing these days.  You need to hone your work to the bone so no one gets bored with it, I guess.  But that attitude falls under the same heading as "Write what you know."  All of which is bullshit.  If people only wrote what they knew, we'd have no science fiction stories along the lines of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" or "The War of the Worlds", because neither Jules Verne nor H. G. Wells had ever even begun to live the stories they wrote...let alone J. K. Rowling and the "Harry Potter" series.  "Write what you know" works if you're doing a mystery set in the world of District Attorneys and the criminal courts, because it helps to know the jargon and attitudes of those people.  But reality is, you can learn that.

If I only write what I know, I'd have one book in me.  Period.  I write what I want to know.  I write what my characters want me to tell.  That's the only reason I have enough courage to dig into "Place of Safety" -- because it's a world I know nothing about.  And don't think I'm kidding myself about how much courage I'm exhibiting on that story, seeing as how it scares me shitless and I fight doing it every step of the way. this case I AM writing something I know about -- the psychosis of being a writer and how sometimes his characters try to take over his life.  And what's the outcome, so far?  It's boring.  But I'm still doing it and hoping for the best when it comes to length.

That's me, Mr. Pollyanna.

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