Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just in General

I was surprised when Zac Petit from Writer’s Digest asked if they could quote me in their magazine. At the Writer’s Digest Forum, a question was posted regarding opinions on the best ingredient of a novel, the choices being plot/premise, style, characters or setting. I chose characters. Why? Well, since writing my entire response here might constitute plagiarism, you must go to the sidebar on page 10 of the March/April edition of Writer’s Digest, to read what I said. Writer’s Digest is one of the best magazines out there for writers, along with The Writer. I read both religiously.

I am still writing my novel, with my goal for completion for April. I am being lenient on myself, not committing to a strict deadline of 12:00 a.m. April 1. My goal is have the entire second draft completed by sometime during the month. Thus far, I have written 41,014 words. I already have a novel (40,000 words or more), but the story is half to three-quarters finished. I have anywhere from 20,000 – 40, 0000 words left to complete the story.

If I write 1,000 words per day, it will take me 20 days to reach 60,000 words, or 40 days to reach 80,000 words. Either way, I would reach my deadline. If I feel really industrious, I could write 1,500 words a day for the next 20 days and produce 30,000 words, and be done by the end of March.

I want to find markets for three short stories I have written. Persistence is the key. Robert A. Heinlein’s Rules of Writing from his essay On the Writing of Speculative Fiction, published in 1947, are well known to many writers:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

These are excellent rules. I have given extra thought to number three, since many writers disagree with refraining from rewriting. However, Heinlein’s intent is very clear. As writers, it is our job to create a first draft that is polished and ready for the eyes of an editor, agent or publisher. Think about words, plot and every aspect of your story, and make changes as you go along. Once you put “The End,” you are done. While I agree with this rule, I have not yet gotten to the point where I do not go back and make changes.

Now it’s time for me to work on my novel. I am on chapter 23 to be exact. Until next time…happy writing, and write like it is.

2 comments:

Jai Joshi said...

Congrats on being quoted in Writer's Digest! That's cool.

I agree with you that characters are the most important part of any story. Whether the plot is simple or complicated, fast paced or slow, if the characters aren't interesting then the readers won't care. It's worrying about the characters that makes them keep turning the page.

As for Heinlein, I don't have a problem with most of his rules per se but I don't live by them. Frankly, as I've said before, "rules schmules".

Jai

Susan Littlefield said...

Jai,

Thank you! Yes, character can make or break a story.

I like "rules schmules." I think the rules are wonderful guidelines, but nobody can ever adhere to them perfectly.

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