So a while back, I wrote a guest post at DeadlyEverAfter about what I read when I’m writing. One of the things I mentioned is that I keep a writing binder of printouts from the internet with particularly good advice (because I like killing trees, apparently, but actually I just lose things when they’re digitally bookmarked). It’s like a reference book of starter prompts for when I get stuck – I actually hate that word, “prompts” – it sounds like seventh-grade English class, so let’s just say they’re a way to either jump-start or test the potency of the conversation I’m trying to have with myself (and readers) when I’m writing.
This week’s assorted curios includes stuff from Maggie Stiefvater’s blog (I’ve been stalking her How I Write posts), and some random things that popped up in my twitter feed.
First Drafts (any draft, really)
One of the things that I’m always harping on with drafts is that they need to be specific. Make it a book that can’t take place anywhere else, make so that it couldn’t happen to any other people, make it so that the plot couldn’t be told by anyone else.
From Rough to Final: A Dissection of Revision – Maggie Stiefvater
Kill Your Darlings… Or Not
Faulkner was the first to advise writer to kill their darlings, which basically boils down to: if you love a bit of your writing too much to be reasonable and logical about it, you should cut it. That you should never sacrifice the good of the whole because of blind affection for a single bit. (I do not agree with this advice, by the way. I think if you love a part of your writing beyond reason, you should delete the rest of it and write the rest to match the loved bit).
Do Not Love Your Characters More or Less Than Your Readers – Maggie Steifvater
Is worldbuilding something the reader or viewer ought to notice, because the writer makes a point of showing it off? If anything, I’d argue it’s closer to being the other way around — oftentimes, the more you notice the scaffolding, the less skillful the worldbuilding is. And the best worldbuilding frequently escapes your notice, unless you’re paying a lot of attention.
The Tiny Tragedy
For me the toughest part is dealing with the gulf between the perfect thing in my head and the flawed thing that ends up on the page. It’s a tiny tragedy every time you set something down. And sometimes the tragedy doesn’t feel that tiny. And so it becomes easier to not write, and just spend my days pacing, snacking, and watching my dog watch me.
Interview with picture book author Mac Barnett
(this whole interview is very thoughtful and a good read)
I actually DO use electronic bookmarks for “research” articles, rather than printing them out, because then I really would be killing too many trees. At any rate, this article is just hella fascinating. It really speaks to how the people in charge, those with an agenda, can manipulate perceptions of history as moving in a straight line to support their claims. When, in fact, the complete opposite is true: