The most useful post on writing that I’ve read in recent times is here: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Book as Event
Thank you Dean Wesley Smith!
I don’t agree with absolutely everything in this post of course, but most of it makes perfect sense to me. The core thesis is, and I quote, “Myth: All books need to be events, need to be something special.”
That was my belief for essentially my entire writing career. If the story wasn’t big/meaningful/ground-breaking/a potential home run, don’t bother starting it.
This worked for me for a while. I produced six novels that I’m still quite proud of. And then all of a sudden I wasn’t producing novels anymore. I started developing novel ideas several times, but either the ideas went nowhere, or I could see no way of doing the research, or the idea just wasn’t big enough to bother with.
Then I read the article cited above, recognized myself, and decided to try something new.
In mid-December (yes, this past December) I spent a couple of writing sessions developing a plot for a story idea that had just popped into my head. It’s an off-the-wall kind of fantasy in a vaguely medievalist setting. Editor self sneered: “You have got to be kidding me.” New experimental self replied: “Leave me alone. It’s just a story.”
The goal was a 60,000-word novel in three months, aiming at 1000 words a day. (FYI: words-per-day math follows its own obscure rules.)
My first serious writing session was on December 21, but I only managed another couple of sessions before year’s end. In January I got serious, and started writing nearly every day.
I hit a wall on January 27th. Here’s the blog post: For Me, Writing Fast ≠ Writing Well
February 24 was another roadblock. I spent most of this day re-plotting the last part of the story. By the evening I had short, very sketchy versions of every remaining scene in the book.
From there everything just worked. As of yesterday I had the last chapter in place and my word count was 60,300—so close to my goal it astonishes me.
I still have holes to fill in, but not a whole lot of them. I still need to fix some terminology. And yes, I will read it all over and clean it up. Oh, and no one else has read a word of it yet.
But the point is, I wrote a novel in slightly over two months, I had a lot of fun doing it, and I like the result.
So again—Thank you Dean Wesley Smith!