Re-learning How to Think (About Writing)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Yikes! It’s September and I never posted my “Writing Update” for July. I’ve been busy, and one of the things I’ve been busy doing is taking Holly Lisle‘s new online course: How to Think Sideways. I’m really enjoying the course, and I’m amazed at how well some of the techniques are working for me.

The first section of the course is all about ideas. If you write anything like me, sometimes you get ideas that seem to almost write themselves. In my case a lot of these had themes of objects that seemed to pop up in multiple otherwise unrelated stories. One of the first things I got out of this course was a much fuller understanding of what this means, how to map out the things that set off my imagination, and how to use this understanding to tap into story ideas in a more “on demand” fashion. It’s like finally having the address for that P.O. Box in Schenectady.

One of my biggest problem with ideas is that I do get a lot of them1 . More that I possibly have time to write2 . Sometimes I get pretty far into turning the idea into a story before I realize that it’s not as great as I thought, or it’s just not for me. One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from the course is how to figure these things out quickly, and well in advance. This lesson came with four versions of the proposal for her novel Talyn, three as examples of what not to do, and the version that sold to Tor (that’s about 150 pages of examples for one lesson).

The second section (which I’m getting into now) is about planning. What to plan. What not to plan. How to avoid over-planning. How to plan and still allow things to grow organically. This is something I’ve struggled with over numerous short stories and three novels, and I welcome any help in making sense of my experiences.

Invitation Only Limited Time Offer!

The first run of this course (300 seats) sold out fast. Holly has opened up sign ups between now and September 8th, at 9am EDT on an invitation only basis. If it’s sounds at all interesting, consider yourself invited.

  1. That is too a problem! Trust me. []
  2. Although if someone wants to fund my early retirement I’d be willing to give it a go! []

Zette Appreciation Day

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I missed the fact that yesterday was Zette Appreciation Day, but I’ll try and make up for it now.

In late 2003 I was convinced that writing a novel was much to hard a thing to try. I had it listed in my goals for something to work on by 2008. But then I saw Zette’s announcement at Forward Motion that she would be teaching an online class during which participants would write a novel over a period of two years. I signed up, not sure what to expect. Well it worked. I wrote a novel. It wasn’t polished and ready for submission by the end of the class due to some poor decisions on my part, but I had a completed first draft and some solid ideas for how to proceed. I also wasn’t afraid of writing novels anymore, which is a big one.

When I did start serious revisions I realized that I’d lost the detailed critique Zeete had sent me (which is what comes of replying to auto-generated forum emails without changing the subject). I emailed her in a panic explaining what had happened and what I believed the subject of the email to be and she went through the effort of digging it up and sending it again. It had probably been about a year since she first sent it, and it was a big help.

Zette always seems to want to help. I seem to remember her taking some flak on the NaNoWriMo boards for trying to offer good solid advice to folks about what is considered publication and scams to be wary of. You can’t really help people who don’t want to be helped, but it must be disheartening when they attack you for it. A quick check just now shows that she’s still there offering helpful advice to those who will listen.

If you’re willing, she’ll probably help you someday

To learn more about Zette:
Forward Motion — http://www.fmwriters.com
Vision — http://www.lazette.net/Vision/
Zette’s website — http://www.lazette.net