Well, since I am NOT an experienced fiction writer I do not feel I really have any advice to offer on fiction. I look forward to additional comments since I am learning and want to learn much more. Hey, Aaron, I think I’ll check out that book you mentioned for myself.
It wouldn’t be sportsman like of me to simply duck out and I have no problem jabbering anyway, so I will contribute something here. First of all DITTO on what has been said but I will add some stuff from my perspective since I have the mic.
The “craft” of writing comes AFTER the ideas, not first. Aaron mentioned a synopsis which would quickly reveal if there is something there to start with. I have written a couple hundred songs in my life and it wasn’t because I wanted to write songs, it was because I was about to burst with emotion of some kind and I needed an outlet. Certain kinds of music suited the emotion I wanted to let out and other kinds of music didn’t work for that emotion. It was raw but still tangible to me. “I like that. I don’t like that. Yeah, more like that.” Etc.
I play something new for my wife and usually can’t hold her attention for more than 45 seconds. A year goes by and I have chipped away at the rough edges, made the rhythn better, changed words, minimized the lousy stuff and changed to the key to fit my range better and maybe added some catchy things as well. That is the “craft”. That comes AFTER. I play the song for my wife and she says “I like that song” and I tell her that I played it for her a year ago. She argues that she never heard it and I understand. From the inside of me it is the same song. It has always been about expressing the same emotion as a year earlier but by the time it is “done” other people can finally HEAR WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY. Of course, this is a success story. Some songs never quite get there and I’m sure it can be true for books as well.
I love what Teresa said about “the book takes over” and how the writer is not really in control. Since practically everyone close to me wants me to start writing fiction [I have started, but struggling] I realize that my immobility is because I am not taking everyone’s advice here. I keep worrying that there are still too many unanswered questions and I have literally written down many, many questions about the characters and the plot twists and certain resolutions because I am assuming I need to know everything before I can write the whole story. Teresa’s advice is liberating because it says the book will take me where I need to go. It makes me feel less alone; as though the book and I will collaborate and write it together. I am freed from being omniscient [knowing everything] about every detail. It is worse than editing while I write, it is editing BEFORE I write. How nuts is that? [Oh by the way, it helps to be a little nuts to be creative so that’s the good news for me].
I have known these things in music because since I was a teenager and had a band waaaayyy back then, I would tell the members to put our egos aside and let the song be its very best. We were there to serve the song and let it manifest itself. The more we let it, the better it could be.
Translating all this to writing is identical and now easy for me to see but my point is that you still have to have something to say FIRST. What a bondage it would be if I really, really wanted to be a writer but had absolutely nothing I particularly wanted to say. Naturally, no book can work with a mental mute.
Thanks Teresa. I guess wisdom always has a way of sounding like we already knew it but still needed to hear it.
I guess my advice is also being the transparent student here. I hope I have a testimonial next week of genuine progress.
I’m liking this delayed chat the four of us are having. For readers that don’t know us, I will tell you without an ounce of exagerration, everyone here is genuinely easy to like and easy to get along with. I also know we are all humble enough and smart enough to know we NEVER stop learning and to stop learning is a type of death.
Proverbs 3:13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. NAS