Just a quick question to all three of you who occasionally read this thing. I’m closing in on the end of my first draft and there are definitely elements where I feel like I’m swimming in a whole bunch of concepts, many of which seem disparate. At one point in my mind they seemed coherent, especially conceptually. But now, I ain’t fer sure. I’ll probably let it go and revisit the whole thing during revisions, but I was just hoping for a little lifeline from anyone out there who has enjoyed a similar experience.
I hit 90k words yesterday. Things are coming along well enough for the first draft. The story lines are coming to a head and the ending is in site. I figure I’ll have about 110k first draft words after the dust settles.
With a little luck, some of it will be good and worth keeping. With a lot of hard work, I hope to fine tune the ms. and circulate it to a handful of trusty readers (those I trust to call a spade a spade and tell me how the book affects them, for better or worse).
As I’ve written these pages, I find myself wondering what I hope most writers wonder – am I doing it right? Only time and readers will tell, but I have to say that this has been a joy to experience. So far I’ve come away with the perception that dedication and determination will be the keys to succeeding. Yes, talent must be in there, too, but without the commitment, talent doesn’t mean a whole lot.
I’m getting ready to head to Gen Con for the first time ever on Wednesday. I’ve got some friends out in Indy who are avid Magic the Gathering players and a friend from here in WV with whom I game. It should be good, although I don’t know exactly what to expect. I haven’t signed up for any games in hopes of being able to get in on some pick up stuff. I look forward to checking out the retail hall and the Authors’ Avenue. It should be rollicking good time, a laugh a minute thrill ride. Of course I’ll be bringing my trusty new laptop (should be rolling in tomorrow) so that I may get some words down while there (we’ll see).
Drifting through the ether of the interwebs, I’ve come across numerous accounts of what makes a good story. Here. Here. And here, for example. Commentors weave common answers related to plot, characterization, diction and so forth into the ongoing discussion. Along with techniques, style and the story itself, the reader’s predilections also determine what makes a good story. Those who devour mysteries have different criteria than consumers of inspirational writing whose criteria differ from fans of pulp fiction. And that’s okay. In fact, it is better than okay. I think that’s the part I love about reading. I have a pretty good handle on what I like – characters that surprise, world building with depth of time and geography, action, to name a few – but I also find that my willingness to try new works in different genres is exciting in its own right.
I commented earlier in Writing Standards, my post about my perception that it can be difficult to feel like your writing, your story, is different from others when you start using the conventional wisdoms of writing as your guide more than the story itself. I’ve read thrillers by many different authors and, after a while, they do start to run together. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading those, it just means I just don’t hunger for those kinds of books like I do for books such as Blade of Tyshalle, or Game of Thrones, or The Darkness that Comes Before. And there it is: I like fantasy of the epic sort. So not only do I need a good story, but also I need a certain elements that resonate long after I’ve finished the book. What makes a good story for you, the reader?
Though I’ve run off on a bit of a tangent here, my takeaway as a writer is to keep the audience in mind (in this case, it’s me). If I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, then my ideal reader probably won’t either.
I read a fair amount of writing-related blogs and websites to help keep me going. There’s tons of good stuff out there and today I found Bibliophile Stalker’s links and plugs post to be an especially nice melange of good stuff. I went from there to John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, where I dug into his Big Idea series of posts from other authors. I have to confess, I was drawn by China Miéville‘s cover for The City and The City. Each author provides some insight for how they develop story ideas in general or how they developed specific story ideas. Good stuff. If you need a boost today, check these out.