The Missing Step

For the past couple books, I have been writing directly from my layout of 3×5 cards. I now think this was unwise, and cost me time and effort later on in the process – fixing things that I didn’t notice were wrong at the beginning, and realizing that things I thought were cool in concept were actually unworkable messes. Thus my eureka moment – laying out the plot on cards is an essential step for me, but there should be another step before beginning to write.

When I first started writing for Black Library, they insisted I do detailed synopsises and chapter by chapter breakdowns. I thought it was an unnecessary pain then, but now I see that it helped the novels. When forced to turn the sketchy notes on my cards into a document that somebody else had to read, I would find holes and bits that didn’t work, and was able to put them right before I got too deep into the book. Now I’m writing that detailed breakdown for myself, and it’s already helping me fix the weave and smooth out the rough corners of the new novel.

Note to self – hubris and laziness are a writer’s worst enemies. Do the fucking work!

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Date: Tuesday, 8. November 2011 11:12
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  1. 1

    “Do the Fucking Work!” should be on a poster.

  2. 2

    Right next to Keep Calm and Carry On!

  3. 3

    Hubris and laziness are the bane of many an occupation, not just writing. Getting down to business rather than simply pontificating about it always seems to be the most difficult step of the process.
    Nathan, are there any mantras/rituals you preform to get you into the writing process before you begin your storyboard layouts on cards? As an academic writer I like to read George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” before I write anything substantial; however, that essay might actually be counter productive to a fiction writer.

  4. 4

    Hi, Paul. Thanks for the comment. As for rituals, I just make tea.

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