Monday, March 27, 2006

Search Me

I need to stomp on a meme before it grows another head and attacks one of my friends, so:

Ten Things I Haven't Learned About Writing

1. Backward: I don't know how to write in skips, jumps, batches, artful segues, out of sequence, minus sequence, dream sequence, or with any other trendy method. I start at the beginning of the story and keep writing until I reach the end.

2. E-mail Lost: How to tactfully respond to an e-mail from a colleague I don't know that starts with either Dearest Friend or Listen you bitch.

3. Future Nookie: The correct amount/position/quality/wild-monkey degree of sex, if any, that should be included in a science fiction story.

4. Grammar-challenged: That whole lay-lie thing. I know, a bunch of you explained it to me last time it came up, but I'm too lazy to look up the comments.

5. Harmony Bereft: That romance writer thing where you list 20 reasons (aside from being in love) as to why your lovers should live happily ever after. I can only ever come up with 20 reasons why they shouldn't.

6. Inorganic: How to write a book without a plot, a plan, or a clue. Need those.

7. Less Than Posture Perfect: I've never absorbed exactly how one properly kisses important industry ass. I can spot them from a mile away, though.

8. Questionable Worship: Understanding why a living writer would ripoff a dead writer and then call it homage. You want to pay me homage when I'm dead? Leave my damn books alone.

9. Total Confusion: How spending two grand, traveling in coach next to a single, obese marital aids salesman who just had garlic crabs for lunch, sleeping in a room with three strange women who hog the bathroom and hate each other, eating mysterious, bad luncheon chicken, acquiring five thousand homemade bookmarks, being exposed to various lung diseases, being tactfully ignored by a thousand of my peers and chatted up by the other thousand, having my three roommates load up my suitcase with freebie cowboy/runaway bride romances, and a spiral-bound telephone book filled with badly-copied advice on writing is going to make me a better, more successful writer.

10. Unspontaneous: Any amount of by-the-seat-of-my-pants writing. For some reason my seat always wants to do other things.

What ten things haven't you learned about writing?


  1. Any of "The Rules of Romance".

  2. I haven't learned how to "wait for the muse to arrive", how to write in one genre or how to "write a book like that Harry Potter woman."

    But I did perfect a killer date square recipe this weekend. (I know I'm the only one who cares about that.)

  3. I haven't learned to stick to the plan. I can do them, I can print them up, I can make fancy spreadsheets out of them, but as soon as something sparkly takes my fancy, I'm off.

  4. I'm right there with you on the whole lay/lie issue. And I was an English major! Some things just never sunk in.

    But what I really haven't learned is how to write through a rough spot in the story. I always hear 'just push through it and the problem will resolve itself on the other side.' But I figure if I'm having that hard of a time pushing through a scene, then there is something intrinsically wrong with the plot or the characters or the point of view. And, so far, I've been right. So I'd rather fix it the problem when I hit it rather than end up with 5000 useless words once I fix the problem in editing.


  5. Write fast. Except for a brief moment when I was stuck in the animation ghetto and had impossible two day deadlines, I have never learned to write fast.

    Somebody please teach me. I need money. :)

  6. I don't know how to avoid false starts. I must begin each story at least a half-dozen times.

    I don't know how to write a good synopsis even though I've printed off several pieces of sound advice.

    I don't know how to keep my focus on one project. Must learn this!

  7. I've never been able to stick to a plot/plan/outline. I always write away from it into more interesting realms. If I have a starting point and an ending, I can happily fill in the 'middle'. Just... can't... stick... to... the... plot! Must... free write!

  8. lay/lie. Now you have me wondering if I screwed it up in a comment or a post somewhere. ('Cause we know from a few weeks ago, 'It's all about me.')

    I can deal with a lot.

    I can handle principle/principal.

    I can manage except/accept and idea/ideal.

    Lay/lie gets me sometimes (maybe lots of times).

    As for the room sharing with unknowns, I haven't had to do that since, I think 1981--Thank God! Although, now that I think of it, my ex- was really an unknown, and I lived in the same house with him for eight years...formally ending that in, maybe...

  9. Ditto on sticking to the Plan. I write a neat summary for my editor, tweak it until she's happy, then write something similar but not entirely related. How else am I supposed to keep my interest up?

  10. I wish I had not learned to second guess my plot ideas while I was writing. ;)

    I have never learned how not having an actual plot can be a good idea. I blame it on reading only books with plots, watching movies and playing videog games... with plots.

    I'm still working on the short story thing too. I'm not very good and short stories. Poems I can do. Novels, no problem. Short stories? That's like a once a year thing for me. I get lucky sometimes.

  11. How to write short. My last two books have hit 170K in rough draft form. I'd save so much time if I could just cut that by 50K! (I did write a perfectly plotted romance once at a lovely 100K, but it was perfectly boring and derivative as well. I'll take wild, unruly, joyous and long _any_ day over that!)


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