Monday, July 27, 2009

More Writing Resources

When I was younger, I had a very freeform writing process. I was, in the jargon of various writing classes, a pantser - someone who writes by the seat of their pants, as opposed to a plotter, who does a lot of planning before they start to write.

This was fairly easy when I could spend most of my time thinking about my fantasy worlds and the characters who lived there. I didn't lose track of details, forget where I was in the story, or write myself into a corner.

After college, I kind of ran aground. This was due to a combination of things: real life was demanding more of my attention; the writing project I'd chosen had goals but no actual plot; and I was somewhat depressed about the way my life was going (or not going). As a result - well, one result - I essentially stopped writing.

A few years later, after my life was more in order, I swore a mighty oath that I was going to write a book. It might be awful, it might be lame, it might provoke ridicule, but at least it would be something. It would be finished. To make it as easy as possible, I decided to write the sort of book that I'd like to read, and I decided that it was going to be a pulp novel - lots of flash and excitement, no real concern with the finer points of literary craft. Better still, I'd write one chapter at a time, treating each chapter as if it were short story; this would serve to break the project into manageable pieces. Much to my surprise, this actually worked. It produced the first draft of Warrior's Legacy, which I mentioned in an earlier post.

In writing Warrior's Legacy - and working on a half-dozen unfinished projects since then - I've discovered that my writing process is not what it used to be... or, more to the point, the freeform process that I used to use simply doesn't work anymore. I can't keep my mind in the fantasy world all the time; work, marriage, and fatherhood demand my complete attention. I don't have the kind of free time that I used to; my writing time is erratic, and often rushed. As a result, I lose track of details. I lose track of where I am in the story, so when I do sit down to write, I waste valuable time coming back up to speed.

I've had to become more organized in self-defense. I actually take notes about my characters, worlds, and other story elements; I've started trying to plot things out in advance; and I've begun taking some writing courses in an effort to gather some tips and tricks.

Obviously, I don't have time to sit in a physical classroom. Instead, I've been taking courses online. One of my big discoveries was Writer U - relatively inexpensive, with courses that run for a month or so apiece and cover a variety of topics. Some of the classes have been more useful than others, but they've all been pretty good. Some of the most useful material (for me, anyway) came from classes taught by Laurie Schnebly Campbell. A good many of the tools that I'm using in my lastest attempt to rewrite Warrior's Legacy came from her lessons.

So, if you're looking for help with your writing, check 'em out!

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