Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing a Book: Why you should start now!

National Novel Writing Month

I have lately been rewriting a manuscript of mine for many hours, which was professionally edited this past spring. Basically, I have learned that there's a lot more to writing a book than just having a good story. At the direction of my editor, I have been researching things called "point of view" and "character arcs," "scene conflict, climax, struggle and resolution," basically: all of the nitty gritty not-so-very-fun-stuff. However, four scenes into this new process of mini t.v. "episode"-like scenes and for the first time in years, I'm actually becoming proud of my work. I can see the craft finally reflecting the story. Which leads me into today's topic: novel writing: why you should start now!

Novel writing seems so exciting: the romance of a new idea, the pull of a scintillating character, the shocking climax, the heartfelt resolution, the immortality of printed pages, the hint of success to come, the dream of a monetary advance, the Pulitzer Prize in writing. [Insert guttural laughing here.]

I am laughing now, because I began this process almost two decades ago, with my first "novel" idea in the fifth or sixth grade (pun intended.) That idea has ballooned into a trilogy of fantastical (literally-it's a fantasy) proportions. However the entire project was halted, when at sometime during my advanced high school or early college years, my laptop died and I lost eighty written pages of that manuscript. I had to completely begin afresh with only an old printed version of forty pages or so. A rookie mistake, but heart wrenching, nonetheless. Bridging the gap from teenage to adult writing can be challenging. Teenagers have the ideas but not the craft. Adults tend to have honed the craft, but now have fewer ideas, or time to realize them. This author, "10 Things Teenagers Should Know About Writing" (while trying not be condescending) makes some really good points about the general weaknesses in teenage and amateur writing while giving many tips on where and how to begin the process.

SCROLL DOWN TO his point #2: the more you read and write, the better you'll get at it. 

Point #3: You need to write everyday. 

And the author continues to give seven more pointers about getting into this industry. He also has quite the hilarious follow up article "On teens and the fact their writing sucks" where he apologizes for his initial statement from article one, and clarifies his meaning: that you can only get better, and by limiting yourself to where you are right now (in your teens) you will never improve. 

My advice to teenage and adult writers alike:

CONSUME the information around you and on the internet. 

DIGEST the information.

SPIT IT BACK OUT in a way that floors people. 

Here's my favorite example by J. D. Salinger: 

So while your style might not have that finesse of your future years, it's important to get started. It's important to get those youthful ideas onto paper, because these are the kinds of ideas everyone identifies with. The nostalgia of "going back in time to your youth" that people, adults try to escape to. The ideas that younger children look up to, try and emulate.

Commit to your writing future: get started today.