Monday, November 29, 2010
Write Forward, Not Backward
In the picture are my daughter, son, and son. It's the right baby and his name is Trant, despite the Howey on the baby-tub. That's his momma's last name, which will be changed in 2011.
Now, on with the show...
What the heck do I mean by writing forward?
Hell, it's what NaNoWriMo is all about, isn't it. Don't stop to rewrite. Don't pause or stall or drown your muse in an endless edit-reedit-rereedit-rerereedit cycle.
Write ~FORWARD~! Onward, ho! Move along. If your train derails and you find yourself writing in the desert, on a horse, with no name, write from the desert on your nameless horse and forget the train derailing, because that may be the most wonderful thing you ever write.
Now why did I get to thinking on this topic? I'll tell you why, thanks for asking.
It's because I'm reading a lot of write-forward authors. I've always been attracted to them the most, and with few exceptions, I'd argue it is the write-forward author who writes the most imaginative, creative, beautiful pieces.
For instance, I'm reading Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. He wrote that book forward. I guaran-damned-tee you he didn't stop to edit along the way. Even his character-author Jubal Harshaw said this about his writing, which he dictated to his secretary (and I paraphrase): For God's sake, Anne, don't show it to me! Type it up and mail it off! It's hardly worth reading, much less writing, and if I read it, I'll destroy it. Now off with you! FRONT!
You see what he's saying, don't you? That's Heinlein giving you one of his methods. He wrote, refused to re-write, and in Stranger I hit any number of plot-kinks (if there ever was a plot) that would have stalled me, had I been writing the book. I probably would have put it down and burned it around page 150.
But Heinlein didn't stop. He didn't burn it, and there's a good chance he didn't do much editing before he submitted the piece. Hell, his first release required a 60kw cut!
And it's considered one of the greatest Sci-Fi pieces of all time.
Anyway, we call these people pantsers in this blogosphere. It's what NaNo is all about, writing forward not backward, move along, keep it up and keep moving and get from here to the end.
It's the way we dream. We don't stop and edit our dreams as we go. We dream through to the end. We live life the same way, no do-overs.
In some ways, I believe the computer and the word processor are the WORST thing to happen to writing. It makes editing too easy. Used to be you wrote it with your quill, or in later years typed it.
You wrote forward. That's the way it's always been. WRITE FORWARD!
I say this about editing, and you can quote me on this: Revision can take a good rough draft, pound out the lumps, roll the kinks smooth, straighten the curves, round the edges, and untangle all the thoughtless knots—until there's nothing left but a bunch of flat, balmy words. Blech!
Keep some of the kinks. Let us see the author in you, the writer, the YOU in your words! Write it forward and let the editor sort it out, should it come to that.
It's how I write my blog posts, and when I finally get going on a freaking novel, it's how I write my novels. When I forget this, and begin editing, I kill the piece, just like Jubal Harshaw aka Heinlein said I would.
Assuming that works for you. It's funny how authors give conflicting advice. Who was it who said, All first drafts are shit! (Hemingway)
And, I don't write. I rewrite. (??)
But I digress.