head, meet desk

“Writing fiction is not “self- expression” or “therapy”. Novels are for readers, and writing them means the crafty, patient, selfless construction of effects. I think of my novels as being something like fairground rides: my job is to strap the reader into their car at the start of chapter one, then trundle and whiz them through scenes and surprises, on a carefully planned route, and at a finely engineered pace.”

~ Sarah Waters

“If you want to write a novel, don’t try to stare at it head-on. It is Gorgon: If you meet its gaze it will turn you to stone. Countless wonderful books get not written – a more intransigent state of affairs that not getting written, by far – this way. Instead, I recommend writing a book behind your own back. Frontload as much organization as you can – way more than you think necessary, certainly more than you want to – plan the whole thing out in detail. Characters, setting, story, in deep detail, so you have an overall arc, an outline of at least a short paragraph for each chapter, what’ll happen in it, who’s going to do what in it, and where you need to be by the chapter’s end.”

~ China Mieville


1. Make your main character want something.
2. Make your main character do something.
3. The components of a novel that readers care about most are, in order: story, characters, theme, atmosphere/setting.
4. Remember that nobody agrees on what a beautiful prose style is and most readers either can’t recognize “good writing” or don’t value it that much.
5. A sense of humor couldn’t hurt. 

~ Laura Miller

 

*

Things are slow going on the writing front. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what the hell I’m trying to say and how to link the aforementioned incomprehensible stuff with my characters and their damn issues. They just seem to be going in circles – around themselves, around each other – and the story plods on in waterlogged shoes.

Ugh. My brain is all clogged up like a stuffed nose jammed with tissue paper. The words won’t come, and the thoughts cut themselves off halfway through formation. It’s like grasping at the wispy tails of evil, elusive plot unicorns and the misty trails of story ideas.

On days like this, there is pretty much only one thing left to do:

 photo headdesk2_zps8a156e40.gif

Sigh.

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