2/09/2003

Against Gravity word count: 17,225

The story seems to be writing itself to a certain extent, perhaps simply because I made a detailed plan of it. Not that I haven't before. A previous outline I had was for a fantasy set in the wild west, involving ancient chinese prophecies and, er, japanese samurai. In the Wild West. Trust me the outline rocked. only i didn't have the confidence to really go anywhere with it. or the ability to do what i soon realised was a tremendous amount of research. I still have a couple of books i bought to help me; the writer's guide to everyday life in the wild west, and the writer's guide to everyday life in the 1800's. Both brilliant books just for browsing through, by the way.

Primarily, when i look back i think i just didn't have it in me yet to see how an outline could be translated into a novel length manuscript. For a lot of people, including myself, first of all you have to sit down and write, say, 100,000 words of consecutive text - regardless of how much of it is drivel - before you can really learn how to plan a story properly. In other words, only once you've internalised the experience of writing that many words, and can then apply it to a plot outline.

Or that's how it was for me, anyway.

I found an old book on my shelves by the writer Brian Stableford, on writing science fiction; it has a foreword where he talks about his early experiences as a writer. He would write 50,000 word novels in four week breaks from University. It's this kind of thing which leads me to believe those quotes I seem to see occasionally, saying something along the lines of, roughly speaking, 'writing a book is nine parts discipline and one part talent'.

Of course, it's not really as simple as that. But I think there's a lot of truth in it.
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