Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Foolproof Process

After drafting my most recent novel, I think I've come up with a foolproof approach to writing fiction, sure to go down in the annals of history as the gold standard model of the creative process. To produce a book in easy, manageable steps, just follow along!
  • Read a shelf or two of nonfiction on pertinent subjects
  • Make things up
  • Start with vague vast plans of interlocking plots and intrigue
  • Daily wordcount goals ensure consistent productivity
  • Trash 20,000 words of directionless buildup
  • Start book again, vague vast plans unchanged
  • Trash 20,000 words of awesome actionpacked material that leaves you emotionally cold for undefined reason
  • Outline obsessively
  • Hate your obsessive outline
  • Create three separate equally obsessive outlines.  Feel unable to choose between any of them.
  • After con banquet, collapse in chair and read a new friend's short story collection.  Feel awed and intimidated.  Ice breaks open and continents shift inside you.  Write.
  • Daily wordcount goals are an unnecessary strain
  • Outline again
  • Introduce three new subplots completely unconnected to outline
  • Delete subplots on which outline originally depended
  • Daily wordcount goals ensure consistent productivity
  • Just keep flying
  • Realize characters' emotional entanglements have drifted dramatically from original intent
  • Build characters in favorite story-focused RPG system
  • Ignore said character builds.  Write anyway.
  • Stop every day in the middle of a scene so you know where to pick up tomorrow
  • Keep writing
  • More writing
  • Screw 'end in middle of scene.'  Always reach the end of a scene, so you know the next logical dramatic beat.
  • More writing
  • Adverbs!
  • Wait, no, no adverbs.  What were you thinking, adverbs?
  • Blog the process
  • Realize that you're boring your readers when you blog the process
  • Write with electronica because of the driving beat
  • Write with metal because of the incessant energy
  • Music just breaks up your flow, man
  • More writing
  • Oh my god it's so close keep going keep goingkeepgoing…
  • Stop.
  • Deep breath.
  • Write 'the end.'  You now have a 160,000 word manuscript.  Your target is somewhere around 120,000 words.
  • One day euphoria
  • Two days black depression
  • Two days video games
  • Roll up sleeves.
  • Edit.

I hope that helps!


Cynthia J. McGean said...

I LOVE THIS!!!! Laughing and laughing. Thank you! Sometimes we writers take ourselves WAY too seriously. At least, I do.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Too true! And btw, I just finished 3 Parts Dead and promptly recommended it to a bunch of people.

Toni Kerr said...

You're so right!! This completely new approach sounds absolutely foolproof! LOL

Suzanne said...

This sounds about right ;)

Eliza Tilton said...

Lol. I need at least three days if video games!

Max Gladstone said...

Oh, me too! I was trying to write a more straightforward 'process' piece, and the more I worked on it the more I had to admit my process changes all the time and rarely makes any sense. Glad it resonated. :)

Max Gladstone said...

Wonderful! Thank you so much.

Max Gladstone said...

Hah! Well, hopefully you need less of the black crushing depression than I do, so the schedule isn't interrupted.