Monday, March 9, 2015

Book Shelf

I think most writers have one…a shelf or maybe a whole bookcase of “writing books;” tomes and guides and scrolls that offer advice on how to finally get that book done. I’ve bought more than my fair share of them, as you can see…



There’s an argument to be made, and I understand the thought, that the time spent reading all these things would be just as well spent, well, actually writing (these arguments are also trotted out about MFAs as well). My belief is the only bad thing about any sort of "self-help" guide or a formal program is the presumption that they reveal universal truths – that there is only one way to be a writer. In fact, I think the most important thing a new writer determines is how they’re going to go about their business of writing - trying and discarding different techniques (outlines vs. pantsing, every day vs. punctuated schedule) - experimenting until their best process reveals itself. And, the reality is, writing is a craft, and there are definitely things you can learn about it and techniques and tricks you can practice and employ to make the process a little easier.

Some of the most useful books for me have been Save the Cat and Save the Cat! Strikes Back by Blake Snyder. Not exactly novel writing books per se, they’re more about the process of drafting screenplays and succeeding in Hollywood, and even, more broadly, story telling. The books have their detractors, and the advice and techniques presented aren't revolutionary, but I’ve adopted the storyboard technique from them (which many writers now utilize in Final Draft and Scrivener), and it was instrumental in helping me keep the multiple POV chapters of BAD LAND straight.


Very old school...a cork board wall and lots of colored note cards. And here's an early picture of the new book underway (beneath is another project that had to get sidelined when I started BAD LAND's sequel)...



Anyway, this is what works for me now...beat sheets and story boarding. Maybe for another book I'll try something different. As a new writer, I'm still working out my process...it's not just about struggling to find the right word, it's also struggling to find the best, most efficient way to get that word down on the page.

As always,keep writing! JTS

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