I am probably one of the most unconventional conventional writers you’ve ever met, which doesn’t exactly surprise me as much as it does other people. I say this because of several reasons. First, when I started writing I didn’t consider all of the ways a professional educated writer would begin to look at their novel. Instead I used the authors I loved and my own logical mind as to learn the craft of writing. Second, after finishing my first novel, I discovered there were major discussions on writing techniques and styles that I simply never concerned myself with one way or another. I mean, why should I? I was too busy simply writing. Third, once I finished my story and had the whole series outlined. I realized I had learned many of the concepts and points many professional writers used just by teaching myself from the great examples of the Science Fiction and Fantasy that I’ve read throughout my life. Lastly, the reason this was unsurprising to me is that it’s how I’ve lived much of my life.
Even in today’s day and age, there are many professions you can teach yourself and become extremely good that people will hire you to do the job. Since having the ability to do the work well will win out over your lack of traditional education. I’m not saying that this is preferred method of getting ahead in the world. There will always be people who traversed the traditional route to learn a profession that will give you a hard time or that you will always be competing against. I’m just saying the option is there and that it is possible. Although, it might not be for everyone and it still requires an unbelievable amount of work. Nothing worthwhile comes free. I believe if you truly want something, put the effort into mastering it and believe in yourself, there is nothing you cannot do.
Anyway, back to writing stuff. There are so many does and don’ts when it comes to talking to other writers and a whole slew of acronyms most people who have studied the art of writing like to bandy around to show how educated they are. It can be quite intimidating as a new writer and make you feel like somehow you are not up to the task of writing a good story that people would love to read. Many of these self-proclaimed experts have numerous discussions on the fact that no matter how enjoyable your story is, if it’s not written to a certain “writing caliber” then it can never be good. Some of these people even believe that if you’ve never completed a literary doctorate then you shouldn’t even be allowed to self-publish. Amazingly enough they loved to bash writers like J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer & Jim Butcher for their terrible writing, which is something that just blows my mind.
I’d just like to say, don’t get caught up in that hype. I believe the most important things to write are things like: Can you tell a story? Can you hold the reader’s interest? Is the story so good you can’t put the book down until you’ve finished? Don’t get me wrong, there is a bunch more to that list, but if I were going to distill the list of what I look for when I’m looking for a good book to read, these are the things I look for. I would say it’s what most of us look for when we are looking for a new book.
During my time diving into the world of creative writing and various I was surprised initially to discover there are writers who outline their stories and writers that free flow their stories without any outline. While, I’m sure there are many good writers that can “free flow” their thoughts and ideas. I’m not one of them. Also, I would even go as far to say that if you’re teaching yourself to write this would be the last thing I would recommend trying. At the same time, I don’t believe in planning/outlining a story to the Nth degree. Again I’m sure for some people that Nth degree worth of planning is very useful and helpful, but it can take many people completely out of writing as they get lost in the detail.
I really believe there needs to be an approach taken somewhere in the middle. This middle will be very different for each author, but none the less there is this give and take.
When I’m writing, I create a general concept of the story itself and where I want it to go. If you’re just starting out you’ll probably thing this is hard as hell and you don’t have enough stuff to write about, but once you start talking about your characters, their thoughts, what drives them, the world they live in, what’s happening to them and where they are going. Suddenly you have quite an impressive story. I’m a firm believer in creating an Outline for your story, because it helps keep you on track. It helps you have a goal in mind as to where your characters are going so that you can keep them and your writing on track. Without this Outline, it’s easy to wander and ramble and lose your focus. Before you know it you have all kinds of extraneous stuff that doesn’t help progress the story in anyway and just chunks everything up.
Think of this as a 30,000 ft perspective, if you’re trying to relate it to business. Just like in business, if you stay at the 30,000 ft perspective you never succeed. You also have to get down into the weeds and do the dirty work of writing. This is the time I tend to make detailed mini-plans and free-flow the parts of the story I’m working. Sometimes I can picture the scene exactly in my head and sometimes it comes to me as I’m writing it down on the paper, but always I have that 30,000 ft perspective of where I’m going that keeps me on track. In this way you get the best of both worlds.
One last note on writing that doesn’t exactly pertain to Outlining your story, but is important for your writing. If you create a character that you name and describe. Keep notes on them. Create a character sheet or something. Anytime you talk about someone’s hair color, eye color or where they are from. Make sure you document that information somewhere. Sometimes characters that you introduce as a throw away character sometimes takes on a life of their own and becomes a bigger part of the story. If you’ve documented this information in your notes, it will save you going back to remember what you said in some previous chapter or book.
Anyway, that’s it for tonight. Sorry for posting late, but I’m probably not going to be fully back online functioning at 100% until the beginning of next week. Or even not until November 17th. The main stuff involved with my “move” to Kaiserslautern should be finished up by Monday, but my organization’s move won’t be finished until November 17th, so I’ll be driving back and forth between my Wiesbaden office and my new house for a good month and a half. Still, just having my personal move completed is a huge load off my mind and frees me up to get back to finishing up Destiny!