Adventures in Double-Fisted Storytelling

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A general estimation of the time it takes me to complete a novel, complete with the revision process, is roughly six months. That’s two novels a year~ a goal I’ve set for myself and am adamant about adhering to. The trouble is, sometimes things get off track and projects overlap.

My objective was to begin my third book at the beginning of July. An Evil Heart, the project I am currently working on with Kim Williams-Justesen was scheduled to be finished by June fifteenth. It’s now July sixth and, although An Evil Heart is in its final two chapters, I didn’t want to wait until it was finished to begin the next book.

A lot of authors have more than one project going on at a time. For some this is easy, and for others, it’s not even an option. I am somewhere in the middle on this subject. I’m finding that the vast contrast of the voice and style of the two undertakings are making it difficult to shift from one story without getting its residual influence all over the other. Given the broad distinctions between the two stories, this makes for some very confusing and poorly formed story development.

For the first time, I am beginning to understand some things that I’ve heard other writers talk about. For example, until now, it was never a challenge for me to sit down and write something and maintain a consistent voice. Now I am comprehending the importance of “getting into character”.

When you’re writing just one story, it’s much easier to tap into the right voice. With two projects going, especially when the voices of each of the stories are so different from each other, you have to find methods of getting into the right frame of mind for each interchanging writing session.

For the story I am writing from the serial killer’s point of view, for example, I find that I must take very different mental approaches to the things around me in the hours before I sit down to write than I do in the hours that precede the writing of my daydreaming, small-town, trailer park, lawnmower boy and his story.

With practice, I’m hoping to become better at shifting my focus so that my goal of two novels a year can be attained whether or not everything runs perfectly on schedule, but as of right now, it is proving to be a difficult endeavor that I will be glad to be done with.

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Comments
  1. Ariel Marie says:

    I completely agree with you on this one. I have dozens of projects going in a month, and I find no matter what it is, to do a good job I need to do it straight through and not to start it unless I have the time to finish it. That’s what I am always talking about my writing really being more ‘transcribing’ than ‘composing’ because I have to carry it separately in my head until its time. It’s born whole, it just needs transcribed. Nothing ticks me off faster than thinking ‘Ok, now!’ and then getting interrupted after I start typing. Worse is when I need to leave it and do something else and then come back—it’s so hard to catch that original, intense purity of character and voice. The ‘influencing’ or ‘tainting’ just drives me to frustration otherwise, exactly as you describe.

    The way I do it if I am getting too ‘cluttered’ mentally is I type the condensed version, like a book summary that includes all the major developments, evocative scenes, plus any good dialogue lines or perfect phrases that came with its birth. That way I have what compelled me to write it to begin with, and can go back into those capsules of ‘when it was new to me’ easier. So then when I have time, I pop those capsules and then expand out the details into the longer written story.

  2. Thanks for reading, Ariel. The methods of other writers and their various ways of thinking always intrigues me!

  3. Linda Bennett says:

    You make writing sound so easy! I know it is not of course. The very best that life has to offer you, I wish for you!

  4. Linda Anderson says:

    I really enjoy reading your blogs, just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. It just amazes me how you write so well. Love You, Mom

  5. If your books are half as good as what you writer here I can’t wait to read it. I am an avid reader have a book where ever I go. All the good luck in the world .

  6. fiona says:

    I have the same issue with my novel which has been almost done for the past 2 years! Everytime the phone rings or a kid calls me I lose track of the scene I was ensconced in.
    I truly appreciate the fact that it takes time to get into the voice of the narrator BEFORE you set your words on paper. I have to keep it in my head half the day or more til I can release the story and let it unfold before me in an unrushed way.
    I have to shift from being a loving MOM to two little kids while I am longing to write the story of a gorgeous single woman in nyc who’s dating and ripping herself apart with fear of being unloved. Good for you for writing 2 a year! I can’t wait to finish the other two books I left in mid-stride as the current story has been beckoning me as are my kids….some days I feel an earthly balance And somedays I struggle with my unfinished business.

  7. Fiona,
    I love that you are a mom and a (productive) writer. The world likes to say there isn’t time to write. That’s nonsense and we all know it… so kudos to you for taking responsibility for yourself and your time… that’s a quality far more rare than it should be… and it’s a quality I admire to no end. Thank you for reading.

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