Wednesday, June 24, 2009

North and South - Trent's last lame post on his lack of an actual "process"

I’m now at the "bit past beginning stage"* of writing a novel: part two of series that I hope to be able to talk about in more detail soon.

For me writing a novel is a rather non-linear process. I write scenes, certain dramatic (well, I hope they are) moments, and then I fill in from there. For instance, I’ve already written the final and first scenes of this book – what I currently think are the final and first scenes.

It’s in the filling-in that the real discoveries are made. Those beginning and ending scenes form the north and south that the compass of my mind follows. They’re the bits that bear the most weight in this whole storytelling endeavour, even if I ultimately throw them away.

I don’t plan, much. But if I have these scenes down the rest comes to me – I won’t say easily, because it’s never easy, and from book to book the difficult parts are never the same.

Of course, when I say I don’t plan much, I still write copious notes. Most of which I never look at again, I figure the good stuff sticks, the bad stuff is better off sitting forgotten on the pages of a notebook, or scrawled in an index card. It gets a lot of the crap away from the manuscript itself.

Every time I’ve tried to work away from this “method” I come back to it with a tangled mess.

Still, I reckon I’d never recommend this way of writing to anyone. So much of it is an addictive scrambling in the dark, a shuffling from a clear beginning to a clear ending with a terrifying abyss of uncertainty in between. I suppose you have to be a writer - and a certain type of one at that - to love it.

In the darkness to the dreadful tap, tap, tapping of a keyboard, I feel at home. Even when I’m hating it, I feel at home.

How crazy is that?

(Promise to write about the do's and don'ts of a book launch next, having worked as a bookseller at quite a few, I have a list!)

*Somewhere between the navel gazing and the finger's bleeding stage


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

The book launch post sounds really interesting, Trent.

Meanwhile, how do you complete anything with this system of your?

I couldn't do it. I start at the beginning (which often turns out to be not the beginning) and then I write until I get to the end.

Argh. I couldn't write in patches, then fill in. I'd be lost.

TansyRR said...

Hee, I couldn't do it either. I usually have an *idea* of the end point fixed in my head, but I wouldn't write it down.

The end point of Power and Majesty that was in my head for *years* is now going to be the midway point of book 2... and writing that scene a month or two back felt bizarre after having it in my head for so long.

I am very keen to hear about the book launch part!!! Mercenary beasts, we writers, aren't we? Writing techniques, yada yada, tell us how to SELL...


Havock21 said...

I'm not within Coee of sellin, hell, maybe never, Gimme more writing stuff, you lot get back in line. Selling can come later OK.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Hey Havelock 21, Trent's post only goes to show there's no right or wrong way to write. As long as a good book comes out the end!

Good luck with your writing!

Trent Jamieson said...

Hi Rowena,

I don't know how I finish anything either :) But this is kind of how I do everything in life (ask Diana). It can be very frustrating to be around.

It actually isn't as non-linear as it sounds I suppose. Once I settle into a novel I tend to write most of the scenes in order. And, in my head there's an order of sorts too. I just need the right scenes to link to.

I'm sure this will change over time. Most writing habits do.