I have written anything here for a good while. Sorry about that. Life and all that getting in the way a bit. That and the dreaded WIP. Three years I've been working on it. And I now have 23K words and a plan. Not much to show for three years, you cry. Well, maybe not. But behind those 23K of good words (not my appraisal btw.) lies a trail of I would guess 300K plus of dodgy ones written in about 40+ drafts of the first half of the WIP.

If I was a cricketer or played baseball I guess that would equate to a lousy average - but I've learned a few things. Well, a lot of things. 

Do I regret the trail of dead and dying words I have left behind me? To an extent I do. Not because of the number of them , but because there are a few bits of nice writing that had to go, along with the other stuff.

But the most important thing I've learned? And this is for me, so for the next lady or gentleman along it might not be right, is this:

If you want to get a shot at being published properly (and by that I mean by a publisher who gives you money) then plot is everything. EVERYTHING. Nothing extraneous should be in there - no irrelevant characters and cute vignettes, no interesting but non-plot related bits and bobs. Everything must drive the plot. Everything.

But what about character? shouts the man at the back with the derby and the dubious looking portmanteau. What of gadgets and gewgaws? cries the pretty brunette lady in the crinoline, almost fainting.

Character should relate to plot, just as plot should relate to character, and if your plot requires gadgets and gewgaws then have them. But if all they do is dress up dull scenes in an attempt to distract the reader from the fact they are being infodumped-on then strike them and write a better scene.

I never used to think like this. But three years and hundreds of thousands of dead words have taught me a few lessons. And I'd be a damn fool to ignore them.

Wouldn't I?

Views: 39

Comment by John F. Montagne on November 8, 2011 at 1:23pm
You would be a damn fool to ignore them, indeed.  Dead words?  So be it.  It's like a war in that respect... you'll have to expect some causalities.   I applaud your post, and fully agree.
Comment by dave bartram on November 9, 2011 at 2:24pm

Thank you. It hasn't all been easy, that's for sure, and hindsight is 20/20. It's that old cliche about whether or not you could have arrived where you are in any other way...

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