Daily Archives: September 14, 2010

Starts With P: writing advice

Our preschool letter of the week is P.  We talk about pickles and pinecones, pigs and peacocks, porcupines and pillows.  Not in that order, and certainly not in the same breath.  Yet, like all things, I could string them together into one cohesive theme if given enough time.  I’m just crazy that way.

While contemplating this today, it struck me that novels would never get completed without the all-powerful letter P. 

And so I present you: Writing Advice with the Letter P.

  • Premeditate: Every good story needs a bit of forethought before putting pen to paper.  While I’m a pantster (writing without an outline), a certain amount of premeditation can go a long way in understanding the nuances of a novel.  For instance, I researched multiple personality disorders for Whispering Minds.  I read four books, checked out numerous websites and tapped into my psych classes from college to pull together pertinent info to my story.
  • Plot: Next I plodded plotted my way through my story.  I wrote one word after another, stringing sentences into paragraphs and pages into chapters.  Soon, I had a viable story line with a workable plot–a conflict and a resolution.
  • Progress: Every day, I wrote a minimum of 1,667 words.  While that sounds impressive, it was a self-imposed timeline posed by NaNoWriMo and their annual novel-writing contest.  Regardless of the reason, however, I made progress toward my 50k words in thirty days goal.  Each and every day, I worked on my novel.  Forward motion is the only way progress is made.
  • Perseverance: Don’t get me wrong, there were days I wanted to quit.  Procrastination could have been my friend.  Instead, I persevered through the doldrums and worked despite my absent muse. 
  • Posterior: Eventually I reached THE END.  The backside of a novel writing endeavor is a much cherished success.  Whether our words ever get read by another human being or not, simply reaching the climax of a novel and wrapping up the loose ends is a success few wannabe writers ever reach.  If this is as far as you get in your career as a writer, congratulate yourself on a job well-done.  Only 17% of those starting NaNoWriMo each year complete their goals. 
  • Practice: After our final words find their way to the page, aspiring writers feel empowered with their success.  We want to rush our babies into the literary world.  Don’t.  Suppress this urge.  Quash it.  Kill it or hide it in a box in a dark closet.  Your rough draft is your practice piece.  Nothing more and nothing less.   
  • Polish: After a solid finish, your practice manuscript needs a good spit-shine.  It needs echoes beat out of it.  It needs plot holes filled and characters plumped.  It needs to be edited over and over again until you have clarity.  It needs beta eyes to pinpoint problem areas and help make your writing a work of art–precise, polished, perfect.
  • Perfection: Okay, maybe that’s too strong of a word.  But the gist of it is, if you ever want to go from wanna-be writer to aspiring writer to full-fledged author, you must learn the delicate balance between as-good-as-I-can-get-it and editing-the-magic-out.  When we reach that comfortable place in our rewrites, we must stop the urge to tinker and start pimping our babies to the professionals.

What other P words pave the way for good writing habits and stellar manuscripts? 

Inquiring minds want to know.