Sometimes I dump some internal combustion engine of despair onto the blog, forget about it, and then start receiving supportive comments, DMs and emails from those who stumble upon it. Meanwhile, I forget to update with, "Oh, I'm all right now! You know how it is with writers. Some days are the pits. Some days are sunshine and puppies." Actually, most days are like vampire puppies with mange, but who can resist those big eyes?
Anyway, thank you kind folk. Especially those who pointed out that Judith of the Lions, which was published by Three-Lobed Burning Eye in issue 22, was nominated for the Year's Best Horror, volume 5, and received an Honorable Mention. Ellen Datlow, editor, has a full list of nominees at her LJ here. Thank you to those who nominated the story, to 3LBE for accepting and printing it, to Ellen Datlow, and to everyone who drops by occasionally to offer a word of kindness. I am, always, deeply grateful.
This past week has been positively chock-full of vampire puppies. This time last week, I saw a retweet by Gollancz of an article by Ghostwoods, seductively entitled How To Write A Book in Three Days. Really, how can any writer resist? It's like those Top 10 Lists that famous writers put out, their rules and laws for writing. We must read them all and discuss! At any rate, this one is Michael Moorcock's point-by-point method for writing a novel, followed by the Lester Dent Master Plot Plan.
It should be pointed out that three days of writing is just that--three days, about 20,000 words a day. But before that three days begins, there are two days of planning. So, five days. All in all, a daunting task for those of us who, you know, work and have kitties demanding dinner every hour and stupid weeds which never stop popping up. Still, I was intrigued. I mean, this thing lays it all out there, bare bones, including how many chapters, how to plot, etc. So last Sunday, I read it. Mulled it over all day. Got up Monday, my day off, and treated it like it was homework for a class. Which meant that if I didn't agree with something--such as, right off the bat, point number one--I had to do it anyway in order to pass.
In one week, I've managed to do most of the two days of preparation work. So no writing, technically, but you must understand that I can't plot a novel to save my life, and every attempt so far has begun with a bang, a stellar idea that fizzled out about the 15-20,000 word mark (or much earlier, say, page one). And yet currently, I have the outline for a real novel with a real plot and a nice little host of interesting characters. Now I'm working on chapter synopses and filling in blanks, so that it actually ties together and I don't go off the rails when I get to writing it.
I have one serious book I've been working on for two years. I'm not touching that. Instead, for this experiment, I picked an idea I've had that got scribbled down in a 500-word passage and left for dead. Since I wasn't emotionally attached to it, I could take Moorcock's plan and apply it without fear of mutilating my baby. Now, however, I'm in love with it, and very pleased with what I've got so far.
The Moorcock/Dent plan also applies, as Dent points out, to short stories. Just scale down the word count (he does it for you, FYI). At this point, I can look back at other pieces I've written and see how improved they would be if I had applied this knowledge to them back when I was actually writing them.
I'm not a lit major, didn't go to college for creative writing studies or anything like that. So whatever I can learn on my journey now is just fantastic. And this has been very valuable. Highly recommended if you're stuck, like I was, or just in writerly doldrums.
And now I've babbled on too long, so I'm off to pluck at the '60s guitar B just hung in the living room, and annoy the cats.