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Mackie

writers' chat

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reading "Wife" i realised i was reading it like something that is supposed to be in instalments, which it of course isn't. which in turn made me think of the pitfalls of writing in instalments - and i thought maybe we need a place to chat about writing in general. :oh:

 

practically all writing i have done (and i am very tempted to ask Goli for her quotation marks :p ) i have done in instalments, writing a story and letting others read while i still am writing it. and boy, can you trip yourself up doing that. :lol: i just don't know how often i wished i hadn't written a particular detail (or even a particular chapter :lol: ) … on the other hand, some things that were just put in without anything in particular in mind, occasionally turned out to be really important for the plotline eventually. :roll:

 

i wonder how many "accidents" like that others allow in their writing.

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my writing is all about accidents. :lol:

 

i'm not good at writing at instalments, personally. generally, i have a pretty good idea of the arc of my story. sometimes, i'll write it down like a flowchart. if i end up doing that, then i do end up writing in instalments. but only because i've charted it out like that.

 

generally though, i have to admit, i don't go through the flow chart. i scribble out structure on chits of paper, store it in my head and then just get down to writing. a lot of things end up happening when the actual writing happens. most of the time, the previously figured out instalments go for a toss and the new flow of events ends up working the arc of the story better.

 

what i do a LOT of once i'm done writing is editing - cutting lines, rearranging sections. i find that once i've written it and it's all in front of me, changing the order from how i'd written it originally usually communicates the story better. otherwise, you can tell quite clearly that i figured the story as i was writing. :p

 

it's interesting how you guys thought it might be me in 'wife'. i think, like jude said, writing isn't self-cannibalising. but yes, it is about personal perceptions. i know for a fact that i couldn't have written 'wife' until i had gotten married. i'd never have been able to realistically imagine this life. even if it isn't my life in the story, the narrative is certainly replete with my opinions and, of course, my observations.

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what i do a LOT of once i'm done writing is editing - cutting lines, rearranging sections. i find that once i've written it and it's all in front of me, changing the order from how i'd written it originally usually communicates the story better. otherwise, you can tell quite clearly that i figured the story as i was writing. :p
i doubt that anyone (well, except for maybe a few rare geniuses) can do without editing. i like writing when it really flows (which might go for "stream of consciousness"), but then a real good close look and a lot of editing is in order, because both logical and grammatical errors can float mopst wonderfully on that "stream" :p .

i am editing my attemtps at continuing the circus story right now, and the (not really planned) long break i took from it, has given me quite a perspective, and i can see where i was starting to go seriously wrong.

 

basically i think the real work of writing, and the real skill of a writer, show in how they are able to edit their own work. it can be quite painful to delete something you had fun writing, and liked when you came up with it, but when it isn't working for the story, you have to kill it.

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basically i think the real work of writing, and the real skill of a writer, show in how they are able to edit their own work. it can be quite painful to delete something you had fun writing, and liked when you came up with it, but when it isn't working for the story, you have to kill it.

 

I'll go with that one. Like if you spend ages writing something and then find it's going to change the whole darn thing... augh!

I find I write, leave it alone, go back and edit, leave it alone, go back and edit again, think about it, re-read, and edit again.... I do tend to use the 'flow chart' for plotting. Especially if there are a lot of characters.

Cut and paste is a great invention!

 

How do you deal with characters who change the plot for you?

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personally i love those guys. they annoy the pants off me - mackie can tell you how mad i get at them; i've gone to the extent of doing a victory dance when the bastard finally got killed, which sounds violent i know, but really, he had no business carrying on the way he did - but they do wonderful things to the story most of the time. of course, like any other element, i think one has to be very conscious that we don't get carried away with the fun of this new character/ element.

 

here's the thing: i think the basic thing that you really need to know is WHAT you're getting at. without that focus, things just go all over the place and it becomes as hard for the reader to stay with you as it is for you to do justice to the story.

 

what about you, mad, mackie, goli, bessie, sue? what do you do with characters who insist on having a mind of their own? we haven't managed to wheedle anything out of rain yet, but perhaps the writer in her could hop in to this discussion as well... :oh: and if i missed someone, i'm sorry. just BOING in. :yes:

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How do you deal with characters who change the plot for you?
ground him. :db:

 

:p

 

well. i think my main character has a way of doing that - i suspect it is his one consistent character trait - not to do what he is expected to do.

 

sometimes he wins, sometimes i do. i write a bit and then play the edit game. sometimes it takes me a while to find out whose idea is better, his or mine. :roll: basically it is great when your characters find a life and will of their own, i think - it means that they are more than just plotted-out figments of your imagination.

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(Jana has a very disturbing way of killing off her characters, though :shock: )

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(i'm not disturbing. THEY'RE the ones disturbing MY story, thank you very much.)

 

:angel:

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(but you are so disturbingly gleeful when they end up dead :huh: )

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I guess I tend to let them have their own way if it seems 'truer' to their character. Otherwise they get told to get their damn boots off the furniture and get back to work. They still do things that are a complete surprise, and I have to sit back and see how/if it can work out. It's nice when they come up with something better that you hadn't.....

 

I begin to wonder who's writing who sometimes.....

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(but you are so disturbingly gleeful when they end up dead :huh: )

 

only when they gleefully disturb my story.

 

I begin to wonder who's writing who sometimes.....

 

i wonder that all the time. for all the control that i may keep over a story, there's no doubt about the fact that the story is told by people who are inside my head and who have a very specific story to tell. whether i like it or not. even with something as banal as 'wife' - this isn't the story i had originally thought of writing. even now, i think it's turning into something i hadn't entirely expected. sometimes i wonder if i'm taking a shortcut when i let character dictate me. like, taking the easy way because it would be harder to carry out my original intention. i dunno...

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It's nice when they come up with something better that you hadn't.....
yes, that is cool. :yes:

 

I begin to wonder who's writing who sometimes.....
:lol: yes, that can be a little disturbing. just make sure they do not edit you out of the plot :p

 

are you writing anything? i was so impressed with how you had managed to weave the different strands of the story together in your time-travelling pirates story.

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yes! weren't you working on a new story, mad? :oh: isn't it ready for a first instalment? :oh:

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sometimes i wonder if i'm taking a shortcut when i let character dictate me. like, taking the easy way because it would be harder to carry out my original intention. i dunno...
i think there must be a process going on inside your head that allows the character to develop ideas and become more than you had thought of. they probably find the key to your hidden treasures faster than you can imagine - and then they run with it.

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not writing at the moment - life's been just too hectic. There are inklings of ideas and plot lines lurking about in the Diplodocus' brain, but nothing's emerged yet... sigh. It's quite frustrating.

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