Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Writing and Writing

Writing Wednesday

I find myself putting a lot of time into my new project, but none of that time includes any writing. Instead, I'm doing a lot of writing, so I feel guilty.

I'm sure that sounds like a contradiction. Let me try to explain.

We've repeatedly heard advice to be disciplined: and write a certain amount each day. I have no trouble with the daily discipline, but I find it difficult to write a scene without a fair amount of preparation. I'm not talking about having a perfect writing environment. What I mean is that I've got to know my world and my characters well enough that I can proceed with confidence. So I spend a fair amount of time writing as I work out the details and relationships.

I've formatted the word write with bold and italics to distinguish two types of writing:
  1. writing for public consumption
  2. writing notes and essays to myself as I organize my thoughts

In Orson Scott Card's book, Characters and Viewpoint, he makes the case in chapter 2 that character and story development is about asking (and answering) questions like, What made this happen? What is the purpose? What is the result? What can go wrong? What I call type 2 writing is basically about asking and answering those questions in written form.

We all know (or have heard) of people who are always "writing" but never produce anything. At the other end of the spectrum we find people who dash of reams of scenes and dialog but never pull it all together into a coherent whole.

How do you strike the balance between preparing and producing?

Image: Simon Howden /

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