A Writer’s View: A May Roundup

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

I figure with all the writing I do and have planned, it’d be fun, educational, and good experience to reguarly share my findings on writing.  So . . . I am.  Probably about once a week or so I’ll spew forth the latest seltzer water of wisdom I happen to have handy.

Right now most of these insights come from my first public fiction project, “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.”  I’ve written fiction a lot before, have edited, have consulted, but figured it was time to return to fiction in style – with a novel.  Short summary: science fiction/fantasy fusion combination of road-trip and religious pilgrimage goes dreadfully wrong.

So the insights to share for May – any one of these might become a later column.

  • Agile works really well for writing – the mindset and the methods.
  • Writing is about loops, finding cycles and patterns in your story.  Because of this plotting one idea may lead to changes, expansions, or new ideas.
  • Never assume anything in your story is “true” until it’s written – discovery is part of the process.
  • Look for Congruence – when things “feel” right.  You want this on all levels of your work, and before you move on from one thing (say from a character idea to a character outline) make sure things “feel” right.
  • Your inner voice is probably right.  The voice that comes after that voice and points out all its flaws is probably less reliable.
  • When plotting, your story may become “timey-wimey” – ideas later on may influence earlier sections.  That’s fine.
  • Characters are the true measure of your world and writing – knowing them means you know your world and story.
  • Characters are a great way to discover your world – designing them makes you ask specific questions you may have missed.
  • Think of your audience – keep them in mind in your writing, what you say, what you deliver.
  • Enthusiasm beats self-loathing for a writer every time. Better to succeed by creating better than tearing down.
  • Beware “Big Rock” ideas that you’re so committed too they drag the story and other ideas down.
  • Don’t “commit” too early to ideas, concepts, or scenes.
  • A small change may quickly scale up and affect your story.
  • Give yourself a place to record ideas without commuting to them.
  • Start over as early as possible so you don’t have to later.  My restarting the plotting cost me 4-6 weeks, but I can’t imagine what’d have cost me if I’d rammed through with my lame initial plot.

Hope these give you something to think about!
– Steve