Last weekend was a flurry of activity with the Writer’s Festival getting underway in Auckland. This is by far one of my favourite weekends in the city and this year was no exception. As soon as the programme comes out, I scour through it looking for exciting events that will inspire and cajole inspiration out of me and this year did not disappoint.
Life, eh? It can take it’s toll sometimes, we can get so busy with keeping up to the demands of work and everything else we need to do that it can end up draining the energy that we need to thrive. As someone who’s innately creative I need to find things that help keep me fuelled creatively, otherwise, I’ve found my happiness suffers.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately listening to marketing related podcasts with indie publishing. While these are informative and are always a great listen, I realised I was paying more attention to how to publish what I’m writing, rather than actually learning how to write better. At the end of the day, you can have a great marketing plan, but if you don’t have great writing to back it up, then what’s the point?
There’s numerous ways of learning how to write well, from university classes, general classes, online courses, to a number of YouTube videos focusing on the craft. Of course, the main way to learn is through reading. My Kindle is teaming with books, and my phone is mainly used for Audible, but I still find myself fighting to set time aside to read. I need to learn that it’s okay to stop and take some time to simply pick up a book and that I don’t always need to be doing something productive with my time. Somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to curl up with a good book and delve into a story.
Circling back to learning about craft, reading a well told story is one of the best ways to learn how to write a good story; but there’s a difference sometimes between reading for enjoyment and deep reading to find something else. It’s the same with writing, if you want to go beyond a surface based story, you have to know your characters well, the world they’re in and the story they’re a part of. It’s this whole world inside your head that can be kind of crazy. Knowing how to execute the idea is key and can be the difference between a good book or a bad one. It’s something I’m learning and I’m hoping will get better at. I’m still on my first book in a new genre, I’m hoping by the time I’m three books or more down I’ll be better and will have some useful hints and tips on how I learned craft along the way.
I’ve started the third edit of the ‘Book’ and it definitely feels like I’ve entered the bowels of storytelling. While much is created during the first draft, editing what you’ve written is where the story really begins to take place. I currently have 68,000 words to get through and it feels like a huge task of knowing the world, the characters, the history the future and how everything fits together.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming, sometimes it feels like progress. Ultimately it’s all leading towards a better book being written which makes me happy.
Things that I’ve noticed when editing a sci-fi based novel is interesting, and has made me see how easier a first draft would be with more pre-production. With the setting I’ve created, I’m trying to work out how the society works, how the humans work (as some have mutant abilities), what the history is that caused America to evolve to what it’s become in the book, what the Presidential system is like and so much more. It’s a lot to hold together and editing is where it can be refined and polished so that it flows seamlessly, and it shows what I need to focus my thinking on to answer questions that editing is bringing up.
I’ve been writing constantly now since the weekend I spent on Waiheke, I originally started writing Historical Fiction, but as I delved more into the new world of self publishing, I discovered the joys of writing genre fiction and how writing sci-fi/post apocalyptic fiction made more of a fit for my current style. I started working on my current WIP at the end of September 2016 and I’m now in the final act of the second draft. I’ve been doing a lot of learning in regards to both craft and publishing since then and now as my story is coming to a close in it’s first book (of three).
This is a new genre for me and to get to grips with how story worked in genre fiction I read up on the three act structure. This was something of a throw back to when I took a screen writing class in college and applying it to fiction has helped greatly in figuring out the arc of the story that I want to tell.