Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Process

A dozen false starts. Tens of thousands of words deleted in a ruthless, swift click of the mouse. (And empty the trash, just to make sure.) All that work is never wasted though because it was used as the foundation for the next model, the new edition, the more coherent iteration.

Organically developed over than span of years, the story comes together in the world that is given form; stitched together with ideas, dreams and imagination. New directions are taken because of the characters personality traits. Morals and dogmas. It's what defines them and decides what actions they take in a given situation. Finally a trail is formed, winding through the newly created universe and solidified as the storyline. Now I put the characters in and — watch what happens.

I am not a subscriber of the "write it all down and then edit" way. If a story is a collection of scenes in sequence, then I tackle each and every one as an individual. I start with a sketch, a basic framework; outline and raw dialogue. Then I return to the beginning and build. The words become voice, the scene comes alive when given detail. The prose flows easily from the tongue as I read aloud, a way to ensure sentences and structure that is easy to you, my audience, to read and understand. The story must move forward. I want you to enjoy yourself, to be entertained.

I write in a very simple program called Darkroom. It is basically Windows Notepad with a black background and green text. No distractions. No auto-correction, auto-formatting, auto-styling or pop-up paper-clip that wants to anticipate my requirements. It's old school  —  well old school enough as it reminds me of the first word processors on computers that barely deserve the title. I guess I could use a typewriter but typewriters were before my time. Just.

I then rebuild directly into an HTML editor. I do this because uploading onto Amazon requires the final product to be formatted and compiled into a .mobi file. This method ensures that final product will look how I want it to be displayed on your kindle. Although compiling it through the Amazon provided Kindlegen software has to be done at some stage, I might as well do it as I go along. It gives me a chance to read the partially written novel on my own Kindle. For some reason it reads differently. I am able to see mistakes to be corrected that I had not seen before.

Writing a novel is a very, very long process. It has been said that a big job, is merely a number of small jobs put together. The novel is no different. Small iterations, completed to satisfaction. Sure, there will always be polishing to do, improvements to be made, editing notes to apply  —  but I will say that the method described above is actually working for me. It's a process.

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