Progress I Hope

The past two weeks I chewed up two books on writing, one focussed on scenes, The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield, and another whose title I cannot recall which was on self-editing, which is back at the library now, hence the forgetfulness. I was surprised at how helpful they were, not just in terms of revision, but in making the whole task of writing—even the first draft—seem less daunting.

The self-editing book was basically my second-year fiction workshop, condensed and generalized. Some of the mistakes or stylistic improvements they mentioned I’ve already addressed in my writing. Some didn’t apply. Some I’d heard directed towards other’s work. Either way, the book built very sensibly from ‘show, don’t tell,’ while stating clearly that it is not a hard and fast rule, in terminology I appreciated. So if you ever stumble across the book (it’s in the writing section at Victoria’s Nellie McClung branch; it also has terrible cartoons) it’s worth a look.

This book especially made me want to write as well as revise because the things it mentions are things you can actually do as you progress in your first draft. Strive for the image, work on cutting out too many -ing verbs, stop thinking in passive voice, etc.

The scene book was more practical as far as first drafts are concerned. I’ll point out now that I’m working on finally getting a goddamn proper rough draft of that seven-year novel idea down, for real. Because I know it’s starting structure. I just don’t know how it ends, and I need to bull through it. And a book talking about how to format scenes is especially useful to me, as I have a tendency to overwrite and fall into tedium. Not everything must needs be detailed. When my characters are doing mundane things with low tension, I bore myself out of the work. Which I do often.

The library also yielded up a tome yesterday that I did not expect. It’s a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, who teaches art as a spiritual practice, which primarily deals with getting past creative and artistic blocks. It looks holistic, agreeable, is not religious, and is full of practical advice. It’s a bit of a workbook, so I’m going to work through it. One of its basic practices is freeform writing, three pages a morning. To get the blah out. To get past Inner Editor voice, or the Censor as she calls it. Sounds alright. So we’ll see how this works out. It’ll take time, but I’ll report on my creative progress as I go.

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~ by ambergor on 07/08/2010.

One Response to “Progress I Hope”

  1. Good luck with your novel. My suggestion would be to just power through it, even all the dull mundane stuff. You can always edit it out later. One thing’s for certain, there’s no feeling quite like the feeling you get when you complete that first draft. Don’t cheat yourself out of that by not finishing it.

    I’ve both books you’ve mentioned (maybe even the one you can’t remember the title of). One word of advice, don’t use up all of your writing time by reading. Make time for both.

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