Here’s how to finish that book… Storming the Beaches

October 12th, 2016Posted by Nancy

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Or more precisely, Here’s How to Finish that Fucking Book, You Monster, courtesy of Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog.

To the surprise of no one who has been paying attention, I find it very hard to finish books.  Hell, I find it hard to start books. And as for the stuff in the middle, well, I’m not terribly good at that either. So when this post showed up in my Facebook feed, I found it amusing and useful.

Some key things I’m trying to remember as I do my usual “drowning not waving” floundering about at the beginning of a book.

  • The only thing that matters is FORWARD MOTHERFUCKING MOMENTUM.
  • Kill your fear of failure
  • Skip the boring parts.
  • Divest yourself of ideas of quality. Quality matters in the end. Quantity matters in the beginning. Produce. Create. Write. Iterate. As I am fond of saying, that first draft isn’t just a zero draft, it isn’t just a vomit draft — it’s the beachstorming draft. It’s just you trying to land enough boats and enough soldiers on the sand that you can carve out a space to call your own. You’re just trying to advance the thing — one bloody, gory inch at a time. Quality? Fuck quality. Just get up the beach. You will rewrite history later.

 

This last one is hard to me, because I need to know a lot about a book to feel comfortable writing it, especially with fantasy.  In order to know the world, I need to know the characters, because the characters are shaped by the world they inhabit, but I don’t know the characters because I don’t know the world …. and I go around and around in circles, terrified of putting a stake in the ground for fear it’ll be the wrong stake and warp everything.

I also need to know what a book is about.  Not what the plot is, not who the characters are, but what it’s about.  This doesn’t mean it has a message but there has to be something I want to explore; how you recreate your existence when you’re a vampire, what does fidelity mean if you live forever, what is beauty,  what is the intersection of power and responsibility and what price does it demand of the person who has the power – and everyone around them?

I’m not at that stage in the new book yet. I’m still splashing around and putting off diving into the cold water. I try to remind myself that I’ve made considerably more progress than I had at this point in the long slog that was Cold Hillside. Of course, that’s not saying much.

Going forward, I’m going to try to throw some beachstorming into the mix, even if it alternates with dithering in the boats looking for my paddle.  Can’t hurt.

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