Writing Doo-Dads

Posted Thu, 03/15/12

I've been off the blog rails a bit because of my writing schedule, which has been all-consuming for me over the last week or so. (See blog entry Creative Detour). I'm still not ready to reveal much about the new trilogy developing under my literary pseudonym Deidre Dalton, but I'm getting closer.

This morning I decided to take a breather, enjoying several cups of coffee while catching up on some of my favorite online "news" reads. I often find interesting articles through the groups and affiliations I belong to, such as Fiction Writers Guild, Published Authors Network, Working Writers and the Writers, Agents & Editors Network (WAE).

Here's a collection of "writing" quotes via the Paris Review Archives:

  • It's a wonderful thing to be able to create your own world whenever you want to. Writing is very pleasurable, very seductive and very therapeutic. Time passes very fast when I'm writing—really fast. I'm puzzling over something, and time just flies by. It's an exhilarating feeling. How bad can it be? It's sitting alone with fictional characters. You're escaping from the world in your own way and that's fine. Why not? ~ Woody Allen

  • On the dangers of writing too much: "By the 18th book, one has a sense of having bricked oneself into a niche, a roosting place for other people's pigeons. I wouldn't recommend it." ~ J.G. Ballard

  • You can write any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you. Or rather you can if you will be ruthless enough about it. But the best writing is certainly when you are in love. ~ Ernest Hemingway

  • [Point of view is] the problem that everybody's been up against since Joyce, if not before. . . . I think this technical development has become absolutely killing to the novel. ~ Mary McCarthy

  • On his writing process: "Occasionally, something sticks. And then I follow that. The only image I can think of is a man walking around with an iron rod in his hand during a lightning storm." ~ Arthur Miller

  • I must love big novels, because that's what I've written. It takes a while before you begin to breathe the air the characters breathe. ~ Norman Rush

  • I don't think it's the novelist's job to give answers. He's only concerned with exposing the human situation, and if his books do good incidentally that's all well and good. ~ Angus Wilson

Six tips on writing from John Steinbeck (via The Atlantic):

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn't exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn't belong there.

  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

Steinbeck also said:

If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

I was particularly drawn to Mary McCarthy's quote about POV being a technical issue that is "killing to the novel." While multiple points-of-view can be confusing and unreadable, switching the mind set between a few characters in one scene simply adds to the story if it is well-written.

Enough said.

My little "breather" is over - time to get back to work...

Irish Eyes: Writing

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Writing