Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On Writing and Construction

On occasion, people come to me for writing tips of ask how to write a book, etc. I'm flattered. I am no John Steinbeck, but I'll gladly offer what little knowledge and experience I have.

Here is my basic "rule" for writing:

Writing a book is like building a house.

Strange analogy? Perhaps. Or, perhaps not. ;)

Let me explain.

You see, first you need your foundation. Now, everyone approaches this differently. Some people will actually write out outlines. That works. That's a fine foundation. For me, the foundation is knowing the basic story. That works too. There's no right or wrong way to do this, but you cannot go into a project without your foundation laid out in some fashion.

Secondly, you build you structure. This is the actual writing process. You write the story. From a word count of 0 to 60,000, this is you putting up all of the framing, the walls, the roof, etc. Just like you don't build a house in a day, you certainly don't write a book in a day. You have to be sure everything is level, that it is structurally sound, etc. You have to make sure that the structure itself is strong, or in this case that the story itself is strong.

Lastly, there come the details. I often compare editing and tuning to painting or putting in the fixtures of the home. Now personally, I will occasionally edit while I write. Then I edit some more, and I edit more. My publisher will tell you that I am very much a perfectionist and I will edit till the cows come home. But I do so to make sure that I didn't miss a spot while I painted. I want to be sure everything shines and looks good. Would you buy a house if the work was done half-assed? I know I wouldn't. Nor would I want to read a book that isn't completely polished. Editing is all the fine tuning to make your book spectacular. Just like the choices in countertops and wall colors, your editing choices can add tremendous value to your book. So, think about it carefully. The more effort you put in, the better quality your finished product will be! :)

So, that's my lesson, y'all. Albeit brief and generalized, at least this hopefully will give you some guidance as you read and write your way through this world. :)

Happy reading!

1 comment:

Sun Singer said...

Naturally, I at this backwards, putting in the furnishings, then moving on to the roof, and sooner or later, the kind of foundation I'm going to need becomes apparent.