So I’m going back to the original manuscript and starting my pruning from a different perspective. I had cut a lot from the book, but it wasn’t getting better, it was just getting shorter and thinner, not as much depth, not as rich, and it felt rushed. Maybe it needed to be 135,000 words? No. I knew the book was lardy, over written, Too Much Stuff. So I reconceptualized my approach. (That’s the way we MFAs talk. Actually, I just said, “Well, this sucks, Crusie, try again.)
I started with that classic, “What is this book about?”
This week I reorganized my kitchen with the help of Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, Katy Butler’s The Art of Dying Well, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing from the Inside Out (an old fave).
Well, I started to anyway. Mostly I read.
What did you read this week?
What types of description do you think are needed in novels, and what do readers just skip over? Do readers like to know she has brown eyes and a dimple?
My take on needed description is “not much,” mostly because readers like to imagine their own characters and will overrule your descriptions if they get in the way.
Another reason is that I’m a bear about PoV and the only way a PoV character can describe herself is by looking in a mirror (NEVER DO THAT) which is completely unnatural. (Think about the last time you looked in a mirror; did you describe yourself? No. The last time I looked in a mirror, I thought, Who is that old woman and why is she wearing my pajamas?).
Another reason is that if we’re interacting with somebody in real life, we get impressions, we don’t stop to do inventories because that takes time, and the long pause and the staring will cause comment. So if a first person or third limited PoV character goes on for a paragraph about what somebody looks like, unless she has a good reason–she’s a detective analyzing a suspect, for example–she’s going to notice only a few telling details (telling to her and the story) and move on.
So what description can you use?
I recently joined a writing group for practice and (digital) community. We do a prompt a day (or however often you want) and use it as a jumping off point for flash fiction/ a short story.Are there any prompts you recommend? And, in general, is there anything you recommend for trying to get the most out of writing exercises?
How do you come up with ideas for a new book? What is your writing process? Has it changed over the years? Do you have a daily word count? Any advice for beating writers block? I can’t figure out how to plot or outline my WIP. I’ve read the 3 act structure and even tried beat sheets. It gets confusing.
I don’t come up with ideas, the ideas come up with me. I will do damn near anything to avoid writing. It’s hard. I have to work. I don’t like it. But then a character starts talking about an idea that my subconscious glommed onto and I tell myself I’ll just write this one bit of dialogue down and pretty soon I’m up to my ass in demons. Trust me, I don’t go LOOKING for work. It’s just that sometimes a story grabs onto my leg and I can’t get it off.
I’m reading cookbooks (Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halle’s Cookbook) and Nita’s book and some old Nero Wolfe mysteries for comfort, even though in hindsight, Archie needs slapped upside the head with #MeToo. Also a book my therapist recommended, The Body Keeps the Score, that gave me a whole new insight into the Nita book, which I’m still finding mind-boggling. Reading, it’s not for wimps.
How about you?
I’m toying with the idea of making Fridays “Foodie Fridays” or something less twee, but the last thing I need is to get locked into another Every Damn Week Post (although I will admit that most of the ones we’ve got now just involve finding a picture and saying, “Hey, what did you read/work on this week?” so not labor intensive. Even Cherry Saturdays require minimal research. Happiness Sundays are a bitch, though). And yet I feel an intense need to talk about food, and I’ve seen leanings that way in the comments, too. The problem is, right now food is a problem for me. Or a solution that I haven’t quite arrived at yet. Which pretty much sums up my life.
Where was I?
I’m still re-reading oldies but goodies because at this point, comfort is the name of my reading game.
What did you read this week?
So what did you find to read this week?
(Admin note: Apologies for everybody who waited days for their pending comments; it’s been that kind of week.)