Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo--Day Thirteen and in Labour

What do I constantly preach here, other than a story should begin at the story, and there is never enough conflict? That's right--that you should shut up your internal editor until after you've completed your first draft. Engage that sucker too soon and you're setting yourself up for nothing more than a hefty dose of writer's block.

So, will someone kindly tell me what the hell my problem is, then? Every time I sit down to write another chapter, all I can hear is my mum snarking away at me from my right shoulder: "This is crap. It isn't funny, and you write comedy. What the hell were you thinking? Macy's is hiring; get a real job. You do know, you're a fecking mad eejit, don't you?"

Well, okay. Mum never used the word fecking and she wasn't Irish, but follow along.

Usually when I sit down to write comedic essays or short-stories, I make them funny as I go. And they come very easy to me. I don't think I've ever had to go into labour for a joke with such pains it feels as if I'm blowing a Saint Bernard out my ass.  Can't remember ever writing a piece in which I needed an epidural.

But with this novel, I'm trying to just create a good, solid story--get that out of me first, and then go back and add the funny--like John Vorhaus and any good comedy writer will tell you to do.

So then, why am I not being able to mentally get past the fact that so far, this is nothing but a right piece of shite? I wrote at least 2,600 words every day back in July and August when I finished GASLIGHT, and it pretty much came out close to the way I wanted it.

But on this, my dialogue sounds forced, the writing seems quite stilted in some places, and there are damned uninvited characters popping up all over the place, wrecking havoc by creating scenes that I haven't even authorised! It's nothing but anarchy in Father Jack's world, and frankly, he's making mine a living hell.

HELP! Tell me how to shut up this urge to want everything to be absolutely perfect before it's time.


  1. Whenever writing, if you are somewhat new at it...say the novel for instance, although you have done shorter work or nonficiton, you want to RACE through the story at breakneck speed to keep a forward moving dynamo underway in one direction, and this means no stopping and starting to do editing. Get the stuff in your heart, head, brain, and soul straight out of your system and onto pages or in most cases on the screen get the PRODUCT before you, in hand so to speak. AFTER it is completed, then let the demons loose on it....that is to say the editors from hell that resisde within you. Let them tear it shred to shred now that it is a product. You may even want to do what I do, PRINT it out so it can be handled as a product for the real editing.

    Trying to edit a novel AS you write it can kill it in its tracks. Especially for a newbie or young writer who will be so terribly critical of every word that the editor inside gets really nasty and tells you horrible things about yourself and your work.

    For more experienced writers of the novel form, yeah, do it scene by scene, chapter by chapter or three at a time and let the controls on the editor be in your hands. You have heard the worst from yourself already, years of it, so it is not going to cripple you to hear those inner demons demonlish your plans. As I have gotten older and the more books I write, the more I use a parobala method, that is write to three chapters, go back to GO and start over again, editing as I go. Then on to six chapters, then back to GO and do it over again from the beginning, then onto nine, etc., etc. Sometimes going for four or five chapters before returning back to GO. It may sound tedious but once you master this approach, wow, you are getting clean, clean copy and looose ends are being tied up as you go, and your memory for character, setting, and plot are solidified.

    That's my take on editing and writing at once.

    Robert W. Walker (Rob)
    author Titanic 2012, Children of Salem, and 44 other Kindle titles

  2. So, no epidural then? ;)

    But I do have a question: so then why do SO many books say to only approach a spec script for a sitcom or an essay in the burn-draft fashion? Frankly, I've never heard anyone say a novel should be written like that.