Writing the Bones

Recently I heard comments about how wasteful it is to write a novel in a month. Everyone knows you can’t do that. It will be nothing but trash.

Comments like this are usually made by left-brained people. Right-brained people are creative and know that it is very possible to let that right-brain take over and create without thinking about grammar, punctuation, or any of those other “English Class” rules. We create from a stream of consciousness. We are creative because we know how to reach deep into ourselves and, as a famous writer once said, “open a vein.” We let flow our innermost beliefs, thoughts, desires, and turn them into stories. But first we have to put down the bones of those stories.
It’s necessary to knock that editor off your shoulder to accomplish this. Don’t worry about anything but the flow of your creativity. I do make notes, about names mostly, so I don’t forget them. Anything else can be noted and fixed later. If I can’t think of a word, I just put something there in caps and go on. If you stop to think, you’ve lost the free flow.
That doesn’t mean you never think, that would be ridiculous, but if you have to stop and ponder on something inconsequential such as the name of a street or workplace, then you will lose the creativity. I found this type of writing much easier when I was new at it than I do now. For some reason, probably because I have written newspaper columns and been an editor for a newspaper in the past, I have to fight the urge to edit as I write. My creativity kicks in on rewrites, but I think new writers need to practice this “flow of creativity” so that they don’t get bogged down.
I’ve known writers who rewrite their first chapter over and over and never can continue with the book. Or they work for hours on the opening sentence. The time for that is after the book is written and you are rewriting. Get the characters moving, talking, reacting to each other. Sometimes it’s good to write an entire scene in dialogue only, then go back and add tags and beats, and a bit of description and action to fill in the scene.
How much information does the writer need before he begins that first paragraph, page, chapter? Very little. Character, setting, situation are enough to start the creative juices flowing. As you write you’ll find yourself getting to know the character, stepping into the setting, adding information to the situation. Even so, keep writing. The third, fourth and fifth chapters will be much better than the first three, but don’t go back and fix the first three. Just keep writing. Each chapter will be better because you’re getting to know your character and story better. By the end of the book, you’ll be itching to get back to the first chapter and rewrites because you’ll know exactly how your character will act and how the story will begin.
As I said, for me rewrites bring out creativity, and that’s fine. You will want to delve even deeper into internalization of your POV character, the situation and reactions by minor and secondary characters. Rewrites and editing are two different things. In rewrites, we break down each sentence, each paragraph, each scene and add just the right spice.
Writing is a profession, and we don’t learn to do it overnight. That said, I will also say that no one can teach you how to write in the sense of your very own personal creativity. But you can learn your craft, learn how to polish your work and create salable stories. So go to it.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in creating, editing, nanowrimo, POV, rewrites, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Writing the Bones

  1. I couldn't agree with you more, Velda. I used to be one of those writers who spent way too much time rewriting the first sentence, first paragaph and chapter. I now let the creative juices flow and shovel in research as I write. The fun part is going back to polish and edit.

  2. Sheila Deeth says:

    I love the writes and the rewrites too. But if I never finish the writing there's nothing to rewrite.

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