hit tracker Dave Shields Author Blog: Getting it in Writing

A journal detailing my efforts to launch my career as a novelist. The goals are to share info about succeeding in this field with other aspiring authors, to provide updates to the many supporters who have asked me for them, and ultimately to build the momentum necessary to assure success in this venture.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Getting it in Writing

People often ask me about my writing methods. Someone recently asked if writing a book was like building a building. Then they wondered if such a structured approach might cramp the creative process. I've written first drafts of four novels now. Each time the process has changed significantly, mostly for the better. In each case I assumed I knew where I was going, but ultimately problems/possibilities have emerged that I hadn't imagined.

This happens often when building are being constructed as well. Major design changes are sometimes made while construction is underway. In some cases, these changes are never even drawn on paper. Sometimes they are a result of workmen having a better real-world understanding than the architect. Sometimes they are the result of circumstances that never could have been anticipated. Either way, few buildings would get built if not for a flexible approach. Novels are the same way. No matter what method is used to create a first draft, there will always be lots of room for the creative process. The important part is that the project manager never loose sight of the ultimate goal-- get the thing done!

By the way, I used to believe that I could create a complete novel in the first draft. There are probably people capable of this, but I now realize that I'll never be one of them. Not even close. The variety of mistakes I'm capable of making are staggering. For me, a better method is to get my first attempt on paper and then have knowledgable people point out the weaknesses. Often the errors are completely obvious once they are pointed out, but when writing the first draft I tend to be too close to see them. So, in myopinion, there is nothing wrong with making mistakes in the initial attempt. Fixing them in the reewrite can be fun. Even better is the process where a critiquer's comment sparks an idea that elevates a manuscript to an entirely new level. I'm hard at work on the sequel to "The Race" right now, and I believe that the input I have received from critiquers are going to turn it into a far better book than I could have possibly written by myself.


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