Tag Archives: The Writing Rookie

The Writing Rookie Season 2, #6: Stocking the Pantry

4.11.14 | | 7 comments

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While a single point of data eliminates any line that doesn’t pass through the point, sadly it does nothing to narrow down the infinity of possible lines from every point of the compass-rose that do, in fact, pass through that point. And so it is with one-of-a-kind experiences. Such as, say, writing a novel.

You’d think that having written one with which I was more or less happy (though I’d hope to do better next time), I would know at least how to go about the writing part. Sadly, this turns out not to be the case. From a creative writing perspective, the last several years have been spent trying out one method after another. In the absence of any noteworthy success, I’ve felt that I didn’t really have much to share in this forum. Hence the two-plus years since my last Writing Rookie report.

I still don’t have any solid evidence that this has changed. However, I’ve been trying something the last several months that (a) has not yet proven that it won’t work, and (b) has the virtue of being quite different from what I’d tried before. So I thought, why not share? Even if this doesn’t work out, at least it may have the social utility of any publicly failed experiment…

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The Writing Rookie Season 2, #5: Writing in the Plane Style

3.19.12 | | 8 comments

For the complete list of columns in this series, click here.

Recently in a discussion about writing and revising over at the AML blog, William Morris (someone I greatly respect and often agree with) talked about being frustrated by his first drafts because “the language seems so mundane.” Which resulted in one of those sinking feelings on my part — you know, like the one you get when the speaker in sacrament meeting talks about how bad things were when they missed their daily family scripture study, just when you were feeling good about reading scriptures together once last week. Or maybe like how you feel — at least, the way I feel — when I turn on the radio to one of those money management programs that keeps talking about how much I should already have saved for my retirement. But that’s another (though not entirely unrelated) topic.

The point is that I don’t really feel like much of a stylist. Sure, I revise — but it’s not to achieve any kind of lyrical prose effects. Really, I have only 2 main goals: to make my writing quick, clear, and easy to read, and achieve some kind of consistency in my characters’ voices. Those are hard enough.

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The Writing Rookie Season 2, #4: Yes, I’m a Stalker — Er, Writer

11.28.11 | | 5 comments

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A couple of months ago — shortly after my oldest son got back from his mission — I hijacked him for a day to go driving with me in the northeastern suburbs of St. Paul, about 45 minutes from where I live. He, unwary soul, neglected to ask the purpose of our expedition prior to departure. When eventually he did discover the purpose — to check out a neighborhood and high school that I’ve adopted as the model for the set of novels I’m working on at present — much eye-rolling was evidenced. (Note my clever use of the passive voice to clue the reader in to just how clever I am. For, um, using the passive voice. Yeah.)

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The Writing Rookie Season 2, #3: The Search for a Writing Group

5.17.11 | | 10 comments

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Back when I was in college, one of the best things I ever did was join Xenobia, an sf&f writing group. It was a great experience. I didn’t do much writing back then, but the process of reading, giving critiques, and listening to other people’s comments taught me a lot about both writing and what I value as a reader. For several years, it served as one of my primary social groups. Some of the people I met there have become longtime friends — people I’m still in contact with today.

As a writing group, Xenobia is no more, alas. (It still exists as a kind of email list where people share news and encouragement from time to time.) And I truly regret it, because now that I’m finally trying to get my own creative writing going again, I find that I need both readers to react to my work and people I can bat ideas around with.

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The Writing Rookie Season 2, #2: Choose to Write! (When a Choice Is Placed Before You…)

3.10.11 | | 4 comments

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Every minute of every day, each of us has to choose what he or she will do next.

Okay, maybe not every minute of every day. Practically speaking, most of the time we’re in the middle of tasks we’ve already started, and so not really actively thinking about our options. I suppose that technically, even at those times we’re choosing to continue what we’re doing by not choosing to do something else, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the times when we pause at least briefly between two or more options. So maybe every 15 minutes, or every half-hour if we’re particularly focused or stuck in a meeting or something. Then again, who knows what we’re actually doing mentally while we’re in those meetings? (For the purposes of this paragraph, I’m choosing to ignore all those hours we spend sleeping, in comas, being experimented upon by aliens, etc., on the grounds that they’re not relevant to my point. Not relevant, I tell you! Bad reader! No milk bones for you.)

Ahem.

Anyway, it occurs to me that one very simple definition of a writer is someone who — among all the myriads of other things he or she could be doing — chooses to write often enough to actually produce something. The rest, as Einstein might say, is details. (And don’t you just want to whap Einstein upside the head when he says that? And people like me when they quote him?)

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The Writing Rookie Season 2, #1: Floundering Around

10.7.10 | | 9 comments

Back by popular demand*, I now continue my blog series chronicling my adventures into the realm of creative writing. Previous posts recounted experiencies related to the writing of my first (now published) novel, No Going Back. This new “season” focuses on questions such as: What next? Is there life after publication? What’s different about attempting to write a second novel? And (for those of you who remember a certain PBS program of my youth): What about Naomi?

* For some particularly dubious values of “popular demand.”

For the complete list of columns in this series, click here.

They say that when you wipe out on a bicycle, the thing to do is get right back on and start riding again. At least, I think that’s what they say. Personally, it makes more sense to me to put on some bandages and let the scrapes heal first.

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The Writing Rookie #12: Realism and Artistic Convention

6.17.10 | | 34 comments

Here’s a somewhat belated addition to my series based on insights from writing my first novel, No Going Back. For the complete list of columns in this series, click here.

If art is, in part at least, the imitation of reality, it’s an imitation that’s largely bounded by and grounded in artistic convention. That’s something I’ve long been aware of from a literary/critical perspective, but writing a novel myself — and then seeing the reaction of different readers to the specific choices I made about where and how to be “realistic” — has borne that truth in on me in a particularly vivid fashion.

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The Writing Rookie #11: Overcoming Fear

1.14.10 | | 14 comments

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Fear is, I’ve come to realize, one of my great personal enemies as a creative writer (along with laziness). Part of this is probably just because of the kind of person I am. I suspect, though, that part of it may be endemic to the writing process.

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