For anyone sane its probably to early in the year to ask for year in review type perspectives. Fortunately for my readers, I’m not sane.

So what have you learned this year about writing? And how have you applied it?

  • If I think of a book synopsis like a drabble, it's easier to write.
    If I really work on writing, I can write 400K words in 9 months. This may or may not be a feature.
    It's easier to write when the kid's in school or at day-camp. Much easier.

  • What I have learned this year about writing #1
    The plot you start with isn't the plot that hits you like a load of bricks halfway through, and the new plot is much better, forcing you to rewrite everything up to that point.
    How have I applied #1
    Ideally, I'd come up with the right plot before I wrote half the the book, but I'm still working on that.
    What I have learned this year about writing #2
    If it doesn't work, if it's a struggle to write through, stop.
    How have I applied #2
    I've stopped and put it aside. Hopefully I'll be able to go back to it. In the meantime, I'm working on something else.

  • I've learned that in order to sell a book, you have to write one.
    Alas, gone are the days of query letters for the unknowns…

  • That's I'm too lazy to do it for a living 😉
    Seriously though: if I overthink an idea, I kill it. I can come up with neat ideas in discussion, but if I over-elaborate them it feels like I've already told the story, so writing it feels redundant.

    • That is exactly why I don't outline on paper. If I write it down, story's over. If I tell people, story's over. I had to write some one-liners a few chapters in advance in my frippin' 400K monstrosity, but I made them essentially "teasers" that reminded me of what I wanted to do.
      And even there, I had to grind through a few chapters, where every sentence was a major victory. Putting down the "keep events in order, don't forget what I want to do" teasers was definitely a delicate balance between their intent and the dragging feeling they added to the actual writing.
      Or, more seriously, my outline would be along the lines of:
      1: Setup, characters, initial interaction.
      2: …
      3: Profit!
      If I fill in 2, gods, it's hard. Maybe I'll try it sometime, but right now… I know I could never write on spec. *sigh*
      On the other hand, I can write 400K in 9 months. *facepalm*

  • Well, learning doesn't mean having the wit to actually use it well, but:
    show vs tell actually means use the telling detail
    big fucking scenes are just noise with the volume too high if the reader isn't invested in the characters
    When you (meaning me) think you're done, you're not. Then you have to go through and search, sentence by sentence, for this grindingly tedious list of goddamn irritating phrases that you use way too much. And after that, THEN you have to go over it again, because you will catch maybe a tenth of the other stuff you crapped up.

    • I truly adore having brilliant people reading my LJ to help me make my points for me.

    • "use the telling detail"… That sounds very interesting, but I'm not sure I understand — might I pester you to unpack the details a little more? (I mean, I'm a perfect stranger. Feel free to say "go 'way, kid, ya bother me." O:> )

      • I think I've got the theory, but have yet to learn how to put it into practice with any but rudimentary skill, but: the telling detail is the convincing detail. The sensory touch that makes the scene convincing. A hundred years ago, when reading was a leisurely activity to fill long evenings with not much else to do, the narrative voice could paint in every jot and tittle of a scene. When Hemingway, Chandler and their generation shoved the reader out of characters' minds and handed out details with extreme parsimony, it was only the greats (like Chandler) who remained readable, because he knew instinctively how to pick the single right detail. Most of the others who copied them aren't read any more, but they had an effect: we now are expected to get the pace going as fast as the camera does in film, and to stay behind a neutral voice.
        We hear "show versus tell", but "tell" can work as well as "show", or better, if the voice is distinct and the detail is just the right touch to resonate viscerally with us.
        I think, anyway. Today. Naturally there will be plenty to say I'm talking through my hat.

        • I think I begin to grok the concept, yeah. Paint enough of the shadowy monster that the reader is terrified of the rest… And that may be because they were told (effectively) to be terrified…
          A tactic I need to work on, because the alternative is huge chunks of infodump description. I hate description.

  • Time alone, empty home, peace and quiet. I am working on it…