Monday’s Writerly Quote

Doesn’t it seem like the more you learn about writing the more you realize you still have to learn? I remember the days where I thought a second or third draft would be good enough for publication. I mean, sure, there might be a few typos here or there, but once I got the initial story out, that was it. Right? Riiiiight? (Haha!)

That’s why it’s good to keep this quote in mind. From Ernest Hemingway:

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

There may be apprentices who are far more advanced than you are, but the idea that you can master writing is foolhardy. There’s always improvements to be made and new things to learn. You do your own writing a disservice if you’re not constantly striving to become better every day you write.

Now there may be stories you have to leave in an imperfect state because that’s as far as you can take them at that time. Often you hear published authors wish they could go back and fix some things about their published novels. And that’s okay. It’s better that we get used to the idea that we’re always going to be making improvements. Always. Editing should be something we embrace and in some ways be excited for because of the greatness that will come from the polishing.

So raise a glass to yourself, fellow apprentice, and let’s keep on keeping on!

Do you agree with Mr. Hemingway? Did you used to believe a first or second draft was liquid gold from your pen? How has realizing you’ll always be improving helped you in your writing?

Monday’s Writerly Quote

I hope your weekend treated you well. I spent mine toiling away on SHADE, trying to get it ready for Pitch Wars. I think I’m down to the last 3 or 4 chapters. Joy! However, my pitch is…well…could be improved. Thankfully I’ve got the time to polish it up to sparkling. And it doesn’t hurt that I have a fabulous mentor’s advice to help me. (You rock Marieke!)

And now a quote from Ernest Hemingway:

If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.

Beware the dreaded info dump. Examine your story, find those places where you are telling your readers everything they need to know. Show them. Remember, if a scene’s or chapter’s only purpose is exposition, then chop it and weave that information into the story in other places. Never write what your characters aren’t currently thinking about.
SPACE
What ways do you keep the iceberg of knowledge of your story safely tucked below water? How do you avoid info dumping? What techniques would you recommend to other writers? Let me know in the comments below.
SPACE
And Happy Monday!
SPACE

My 100th Post Party

100 posts scribbles

Sorry my peeps, no Friday Flix this week, because I realized last week or so that I was fast approaching 100 posts. It’s hard to believe I could think of 100 things to write about. And if we’re being honest, I’d have to thank Row80 for making a lot of those posts possible.

But as is Scribbles tradition here, we celebrate benchmarks, and to do that I’m presenting a bit of Lit and Scribbles history with the top ten posts that you liked best (based on views of all time), and some comics for your enjoyment. This is a momentous Scribbles occasion after all.

NUMBER 10

The Next Big Thing. This is a blog hop post I was tagged to do by Brian, which explains in further detail things about my novel. If you haven’t done one, consider yourself tagged. It helps prospective agents and your readers know more on what exactly your book is about. I especially found the actor/actress who would play your characters section helpful, because now I’ve gathered photos of what I picture my characters look like. It takes a lot of time, but I think it’s worth it.

jae scribbles tardis

Continue reading

The Plan

Major rewrites on Shade, my current WIP, are at 95% but that last 5% has been driving me nuts.  I’m not sure how it’s supposed to end.  I really wanted to get it done, even if it was extremely far from perfect so I could put it into cold storage for awhile, but nothing is coming.

The BFF suggested I put it into cold storage anyway and that perhaps time away from my WIP will reveal my ending to me at a later date.  So after a week of doing nothing but blogging and feeling frustrated, I’ve decided she’s right.  Into cold storage you go Shade!

jae scribbles carbonite

That suddenly frees up a lot more time, but time that won’t be wasted.  I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing short stories.  I even began prepping for it a few months back, cramming my head full of Ernest Hemingway and Ray Bradbury short stories.

This time I still intend to cram myself full again of short stories from the masters, but now Anton Chekhov is on the list.  Since I’ve heard from a number of sources to make sure to read his stuff, I will attempt for the next month or so to get through his 201 stories available on Eldritch Press for free.  We also have a massive Hemingway book I can dig into as well.

I’ve already started reading A Living Chattel.  Not typically my kind of story, but it’s amazing how well these stories are written considering most are 100+ years old.

I also plan to read Donald Maass’ books Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction as well as Robert McKee’s Story, and perhaps Stephen King’s On Writing, and take copious amounts of notes for improvement on Shade while it remains in cold storage.

So, here are the official goals for October/November/December:

  1. Write at least 3 short stories intended for publication.  I’ll probably try my hand at several more than three, but the hope is to find three gemstones among the rocks.
  2. Read the helpful books to prepare me for the editing fest that will be late November early December on Shade.
  3. Have read all 201 available Anton Chekhov’s short stories from ibiblio, sprinkled with Hemingway and Bradbury.
  4. Once December hits, tear Shade apart and polish it to pure awesomeness!

I’ll keep you updated on my Fall Goals as time goes on.  I think this will be a great time for short story inspiration as well.  Especially when you have sights like these:

jae rainbow tree

This fabulous sight I’ve dubbed the Rainbow Tree I see every night I drive home from work, though only recently have I taken notice of it.  I know, the red isn’t technically part of the tree, but it’s the whole package that counts.  There are some other beautiful trees in my complex that take until almost winter to change, but they turn into real rainbow trees.  One of them I’ve nicknamed Rainbow Brite.  But I’m digressing into my love of Fall…. Focus Jae…

So yes.  I’ll post my progress here.  Maybe I’ll join up with Row80.  In fact, let’s consider this my post for Row80.  My goals are stated, I’m in.

How to Write a Novel – Pt 6: Get it Out!

This is the philosophy of Jae: rough drafts are easy, or rather they should be.

Ernest Hemingway once said:

The first draft of everything is bantha poodoo.

Which inspired George Lucas to write Jabba the Hutt calling Han Solo bantha poodoo for his poor smuggling, when we all know the real bantha poodoo was the first draft of worst Star Wars movie ever, also better known as Episode I: The Phantom Poodoo.  But I digress…

George Lucas vs Ernest Hemingway

Even people who died before any Star Wars are affected by poor writing. Also, don’t get involved in a fight between two bearded men…

The point is when you are writing your first draft, enjoy it!  Write for the pure love and creation of it.  As George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”  If you’re afraid of making bantha poodoo on your first draft, you’re likely to get little accomplished, and probably even less likely to enjoy it.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Take it from Stephen King, someone I’m sure we all wish we could have even 1/4 of his success of in our careers.

Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft. You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. … When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.  (Read the full quote in its entirety here.)

It’s good to do plotting, planning, world and character building, and outlining—but at some point you need to leap into the chasm of story unknown and bring the messy, tangled web of story back out with you.  It won’t be perfect on the first draft, period.  So quit worrying about getting everything perfectly set before you start, and get that first draft out.

My current novel Shade has gone through many, many drafts.  I’m fairly certain it’s hit the ten mark.  At about eight or so I realized it needed a major revamp, which was like completely starting over.  It took me several weeks to be okay with doing that to my novel, but it’s a stronger story now than the first draft, but I still needed that first draft as my foundation to get anywhere.  In fact, I cringe a little when I read over my first draft, but at the same time I’m very pleased with progress I’ve made.

As Stephen says, when you sit down to write, write.  Enjoy it.  Love it!  Be addicted to it.  Believe this will be the best story in the world.  Push your imagination to the very limits and create a fantastic world for your readers to come and enjoy.  Save stress and perfection for later drafts and for now just let creativity freely flow.

Sometimes when I’m writing my first draft, I don’t even properly chapter the thing.  I just write and leave spaces between events, occasionally marking spots where I think a new chapter might work nicely.

You can even think of a first draft as a brainstorming session, where no ideas are wrong until you switch to editing mode.

Let me illustrate this another way (literally and figuratively I suppose).  When I was in college, learning Spanish, there was this girl in our class who seemed to speak Spanish way better than all the rest of us.  She would make conversation with everyone and anyone who spoke Spanish.  I asked her how she learned so quickly, and she laughed in an embarrassed sort of way and said, “I don’t really speak it that well, at least, I think my grammar sucks and I’m probably using the wrong verb tenses.  But I realized the more I speak, despite all the mistakes I’m making, the easier it becomes to speak and eventually the mistakes go away.”

Jae bad spanish

Most of us were afraid to speak to anyone because we were afraid of making mistakes and looking foolish.  In the end, our skill grew very slowly because we were more afraid of making mistakes rather than learning from our mistakes.  The girl whose confidence we envied came because she made hundreds of mistakes without fear, learned from those mistakes, and gained not only confidence in her ability but the knowledge that came with practice.

Write that first draft confidently, knowing that you’ll probably make mistakes, but that with time and practice you’ll shape the bantha poodoo that it is into something well more valuable than even Han Solo could imagine.  (And certainly a far better story than the Phantom Poodoo.)

Ready, set, first draft!

Okay my writer lovelies.  What experiences in writing first drafts would you share with the rest of us?  How do you view first drafts?  How many drafts are you on with your current WIP (work in progress)? 

Tomorrow, sadly, we’ve come to the end of the series.  I’ll share final thoughts and final direction on how to write a novel.  Hasta mañana!

p.s.  After you have that first draft out, please polish it up.  Otherwise you’ll have scores of fans still pissed off about a crappy job you did 13 years after the fact.  Seriously, George, would it have killed you to go over the script just a few more times?