Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Nine and sixty ways

I'm finding the Eee fine for writing on. Switching on the desktop machine first thing is fatal because I have no willpower and I just get sucked into checking email and then rasfc and then LiveJournal and then -- oops! where did the day go?

So... Words written today 1041. Daily average 591. That's not too bad. Also this is why NaNoWriMo is never going to work for me. Though I have had the occasional 2000 word day when a project is really flowing well, between 500 and 1000 words a day is all I can reliably sustain when I'm feeling my way into a new novel.

Re my earlier post with examples of first person versions of scenes from A Necessary Evil, comments I received both from people here and from a fellow student in my tutor group on the creative writing course indicate that the second extract I posted (Mark and Huw talking about killing things) was more effective then the first (Mark noticing that something was wrong and taking action).

It can't have been a result of converting to first person because both of them had little more done to them than switching the pronouns. The second one has probably been revised more than the first piece which was raw first draft written while doing novel_in_90 about 18 months ago and left untouched since.

At least I hope that's what the difference in quality is due to. The other explanation is that I'm getting worse as a writer as the years go by!

I must admit my first drafts are often a bit sketchy. If I'm writing fast, they can end up as little more than dialogue and stage directions as I try to work out what happens. When I've got that nailed down, then I can go over the writing again and sink deeper into the scene to get the vivid detail. It's a bit like starting with a pencil sketch and then layering oil paint over it. It's why I just don't get on with the freewriting so beloved of the literary writing courses such as the one I'm doing now. When asked to just freewheel and write fast, my mind doesn't come up with scintillating and daring leaps of the imagination, it resorts to banalities.

We had to to a freewrite for the first assignment and this was mine on "Getting Lost":

Getting lost is easy. I miss a turn or turn too soon and I'm driving along a road heading in the wrong direction. Getting lost on a walk leads to interesting discoveries, frustration at blocked paths, floundering through squishy bogs, pushing through scratchy branches, climbing fences and walls. The silence in a conifer forest can be scary, even though there's never going to be anything there more dangerous than a fellow walker. No more wolves or fair folk to eat you or carry you away or tempt you into dancing with them -- only to find when you finally make it back to your own village that everyone you knew is dead and you're a walking curiosity. Friendless and alone you always yearn for the fairy music. It's eating the food that you should avoid, according to the folk tales. Some men married fairy brides. It never worked. They brought cows and often lived for years -- apparently happily -- but they always wanted to go back. Silkies kept looking for the stolen sealskin, the fairy maidens, upset by the man's violence -- mustn't strike with iron -- or annoyed by the flouting of their beliefs -- fairies don't eat beef though they kept cattle -- just drank the milk and used it in their baking, presumably? They made fairy cakes, not the sugary pink confections with hundreds and thousands that we call fairy cakes today but flat cakes, totally delicious. Tolkien stole the idea for lembas, the sustaining elf-food that would keep body and spirit healthy on the most arduous journey.

No vivid similes or metaphors there, oh, no! It did give me some ideas for plot though, so I got the marks for this part of the question, but it really doesn't work for me as a story generating method. Clusters, on the other hand do work. (A cluster is basically a mind map.)

The students on the course seem to divide into those who love freewriting and those for whom it does absolutely nothing. Well, OK, they're the vocal ones. There are no doubt a lot in the middle who find both methods helpful, but they're unlikely to rant and whinge in the online conferences. :) And there are probably some for whom neither works and who prefer some other idea generating method entirely!

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