Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Advice

People have started to ask me for writing advice. The whole concept makes me laugh, because really, what the bleep do I know? I write what feels good at the time, and then I let it sit, and then I reread it and realize what utter crap it is, not that this is a bad thing, because that's the point of first drafts! They suck. Unless you happen to me one of those mutants like Tom Robbins who writes the whole book front to back without editing a single blinking thing and still manages to be brilliant.

I don't have anything against mutants in general, but one-draft-mutants? Hate 'em.

Anyway, then I rewrite the whole thing, and then I read it again and discover that it's marginally less sucky than it used to be. And I repeat until the suck is bearable, with a few stops along the way to research bits that need researching and outline all the settings because that's always my weakest point in earlier drafts.

That's my writing process. Not all that impressive, is it?

But people still ask me. And there's a part of me that wants to say something like, "Your book needs vampires if it's going to succeed. I mean, sure, you've got a nice book about a girl's relationship with her dying mother, but it would be much better if there was a vampire in it. Or maybe ALL the characters are vampires! Yeah, that would totally sell."

I never say it, but I really want to.

15 comments:

Jamie Eyberg said...

I think you just gave me an idea for my next book. It will involve hamsters who turn in to vampires and terrorize a 1st grade class. I am thinking picture book.

Valerie said...

Ooh, outline the settings? What does that entail? I am not so great with the settings myself - I mean they're there, they're interesting, I just forget to mention them...

BTW I'm late on this, but I keep meaning to tell you that I love your new author photo!

Carrie Harris said...

Awesome idea, Jamie! I'd read that. But then again, I'm weird.

Valerie, I'm at a loss for what to blog about tomorrow, so maybe I'll talk about that if people are interested...?

Alissa said...

I have no idea how to explain how to write. So, when someone asks me for writing advice, I am totally stumped. I need to come up with some good stock replies. The vampire one could come in handy.

Marybeth Poppins said...

I KNEW my book was missing something!

Kristi Helvig said...

I love your writing advice posts and your new photo! :)

Stephanie Faris said...

My biggest piece of writing advice is simple: put your butt in your chair and start typing. That...and make sure you read a lot. That's really all I can tell people because, really, either you have it or you don't.

storyqueen said...

"Repeat until the suck is bearable."

Well, that sums it up right there rather nicely.

Shelley

Marsha Sigman said...

Yesssss, vampires! Why didn't I think of that???!!!!

I love your new photo too.

SWK said...

Oooh. The secret is vampires. How could I have missed that? :) Thanks for this honest and fun post!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, maybe that's the trick I need for my chapter book. If I turn all the boys into naughty vampires, then an agent will like it! Why didn't I think of that sooner? :-)

Larissa said...

Have you seen Maureen Johnson's Dare to Suck video? It is awesome. (Well, you know, not as awesome as you, but still awesome.)

:)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Or zombies. Zombies would work.

LOL

Writing is definitely a process. I like the "sucking less with each revision" process! That's one I hope I can follow. :)

Carolyn V. said...

Does that mean I should add more vampires to my book? Sweet! Vampire goldfish. I could totally do that! =)

Claire Dawn said...

My process is exactly the same!

Except I have those Don Music (Sesame Street) moments when I bang my head agains thte keyboard and scream into the night.

"I'll never get it! NEVER!"

And then I wonder how much the pay to scoop elephant poop in the zoo.