Thursday, March 15, 2007

More of the Three P's

So now that Swain has essentially told you he's not going to tell you specifically how to write a book, he goes on to give some advice about writing, what it takes to be a writer and gives a list of broad sweeping steps that must be followed in order to succeed. The first thing he talks about is what it takes to be a writer. Here is what he has to say:

"The greatest talent in writing is nerve: You bet your ego that your unconscious has something in it besides dinner.

Ignorance must be defeated in the process, and inertia also. The true recipe for writing success is that laid down by dramatist Jerome Lawrence: You've gotta get up very early some morning five years ago."

So the greatest talent is nerve - I totally agree with this statement, if you're writing the truth. Stephen King talks a lot about writing the truth and I think it's a concept only those doing it will understand. It's hard to explain but it's about writing your story from the depths of your soul, never holding back on an action or emotion because of fear of what others will think. You write the story the way it HAS to be written. Not for the market, not for the readers, but for the sake of the story itself. And hopefully, when you're done, it's still something that the market will buy. But baring one's soul this way certainly requires nerve.

Swain then goes on to give his list of how to become a writer:

1. You learn what it means to be a writer.
2. You learn how to recognize good story material.
3. You learn how to prepare to write a story.
4. You learn your own best way to plan it.
5. You learn how to get out copy.

You see what he's done here - this list encompasses everything from the mental state you need to arrive at BEFORE attempting a writing career, all the way down to learning to write on a deadline. It seems so simple, but each step is loaded with learning, changing, growing and sometimes sheer agony along the way. But everything starts with Step 1.

Tomorrow I'll give you some in depth information from Swain on Step 1. Have a great Thursday!


Kimber An said...

Good stuff, Jana. I'd written tons of stories before I prepared a manuscript for submission. There's a huge difference! I learned so much from the process.

By the way, there's a Cyber-Launch Party for Susan Grant's new book on my blog today and tomorrow. You're turn's coming up this Fall. November for UNLUCKY, right?

Tori Lennox said...

I think I'm sort of following some of that. I am writing what I want to write, not what somebody says I ought to be writing.

Good stuff, at any rate! :)

Jana DeLeon said...

kimber - yes, the process seems to shift all the time, but then our lives shift so what choice does the process have? :) I will try to make it by your blog today if I get time in between class. And yes, UNLUCKY is November. Yea!

tori - when I wrote RUMBLE everyone told me I'd have a hard time selling it because it was a hybrid. They weren't telling me anything I didn't already know. In fact, when my cp's first finished reading it, one said "I know this is going to sell." And I immediately said "don't get your hopes up. This book is going to be a hard sale." But it only takes one editor to take a chance on something different - then BOOM - you're right at the beginning of the next new thing. I've seen people listing what they write now as romance/mystery hybrids. Didn't ever see that before. :)

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