Nov 102014
 

SurveyorPeople keep asking me, ‘How’s your book doing?’ And I love it when they ask that and show interest, even though I don’t always know what to answer.

People seem to expect that since I started working on my book again in July, I should be at least halfway finished with the manuscript by now. How can I then tell them that in reality, I have not put one word to paper yet. Instead I have been very busy creating a world, populating it with characters, giving those characters lives and backstories. Up to 25 hours a week!

When I started writing fiction, I had no idea about all the things that a writer needs to do before she can start writing. My first draft was not very good, as I hadn’t thought anything through. I’m quite horrified to think what a crappy manuscript I sent to my beta-readers…
No matter, though. It was all a learning process I had to go through and I’m glad I did.

Writing fiction is planning, I find. Even though many writers see themselves more as ‘pantsers’ (as in ‘flying by the seat of your pants’: go with the flow, just start and see where it all ends), I am a real ‘plotter’. I need structure and order. I need to know beforehand where my story is going, before I can put it down on paper. Plotting takes time, but it’s a lot of fun. The pantsers claim that plotting stumps creativity, but that’s not true. Plotting is being creative and using the imagination.

The other day I had a conversation with my hairdresser, sitting in her chair, while she gave me a nice new haircut. Being an avid reader, she had never realised that it can take a long time before a writer actually starts writing the story and was surprised to hear that by now I have been working on my first fiction book for about a-year-and-a-half.
That’s a long time, but the pieces of the puzzle finally are falling into place. Last weekend I murdered my victim! Not yet in words, but I plotted it all out and it felt good.

When people now ask me how my book is doing, I might answer that soon I will be ready to start writing!

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Have you ever wondered how writers acually write their books, or do you just enjoy reading books and that’s it?

Related post: Starting from Scratch

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  6 Responses to “Last Weekend I Murdered My Victim!”

  1.  

    Good on you! And thanks for the explanation about how to write a book, makes things clear. Funny title for this blog, by the way; Last weekend I murdered my victim. ;-)

  2.  

    Hi Maria
    It’s good that your story is unfolding. The fact you have nothing written down is irrelevant. I can’t understand writers who just sit down and waffle on. Even a short story must have structure, and a book doubly so. I have to know the beginning, end and main highlights before I even sit down to write. I also have to know what point I am making in the book. For instance in The Redemption I wanted to show what can happen when a person goes insane. For this I had to hide this knowledge from the reader until the appropriate time. I can’t conceive of how I could have done this without very careful planning. So come on you planners, let’s give the wafflers a run for their money!

    •  

      Hear, hear, Des! I’m glad you’re a plotter too! :)
      Sometimes it feels that the pantsers are in the majority and that I should be writing ‘just like them’. But it doesn’t work for me. I just love planning too much.
      Like in your example I have to plot my mystery carefully, as I don’t want to leave obvious clues for the readers about the identity of the murderer. It all has to be hidden and that in my opinion can only be achieved by careful planning.

  3.  

    I would like to offer a challenge to the ramblers, to write a 100 word story. Just 100 words, no more and no less. Here is one of my contributions:

    It sent shivers through my body when I first noticed it, but was I right? I tried to move my arm, but the unbearable tension had weakened it, causing my hand to shake uncontrollably. He knew I was frightened of him; he knew the power he possessed and I dared not show any weakness, but was I right? My eyes flicked around while my head remained still and focussed, trying to hide my screaming mind and the torments of my body from my adversary. Finally I reached for the weapon that I knew would destroy him and calmly announced: “Check-mate.”

    •  

      Good story, Des! :)

      I wrote a 32-word story once for a freinds birthday. She loves sock and the TV-series Firefly. Here’s what I wrote for her:

      ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ The salesman gave me a startled look. I must’ve shrieked. ‘Are you telling me that the new range of Firefly socks has been taken out of production?’

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