Books to help you write

What I’ve learned from Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’

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I’m not a huge fan of Ray Bradbury but I keep seeing quotes from this book posted on writing blogs so thought I’d give it a read.  It’s not so straight talking as King’s ‘On Writing’ (which I keep meaning to do a post about) but it has some interesting insights into Bradbury’s way of writing.

For instance, he suggests writing a new short story every week as ‘eventually quantity will make quality.’  And I suppose I get that idea.  If you have fifty-two stories, at least one of them has got to be okay, right?

He writes how he used to write a first draft in full at the start of the week and then after revising it several times for the next few days, he would send it off for publication.  Yes, the entire story conceived, written and edited in a week!

And it is this that has given me an approach to adopt for the next novel I’m writing.

At the start of the week I will write a chapter of my novel.  I will do this by hand in one of my notebooks to begin with.  This might seem a little old fashioned to some but when editing previously, I noticed how chapters I remembered scribbling into my notebook were of better quality than the chapters I just typed up straight away.

Then I will type up my chapter, altering anything that needs changing. In effect, this means that the very act of typing makes it a second draft.

Then I will revisit and re edit the chapter until I reach the end of the week. Hopefully, this means that the final ‘first draft’ manuscript will feel more like a fourth draft by the time I finish it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

How do you write and edit your stories?  If you haven’t already, you can take part in a poll here. Results will be published on Friday at 8pm.

An awesome writing birthday gift! Ready, Set, Novel!

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Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is not far away and I have already started researching for the next novel by re-watching Deadwood (to get the feel for the rhythm and syntax of Wild West dialogue) and by watching/reading everything I can about survival in Antarctica.

Today I turn 36 and so imagine my delight upon receiving this book to help me to plan my novel:

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It has some obvious things such as creating a plot line and character profiling but it also has a ‘day planner’ to imagine what your characters would do on an ordinary day in their life. It also has interesting prompts such as ‘Read “Today’s Featured Article” on Wikipedia and integrate something you learn into your novel.’

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And if all else fails it has a ‘Procrastination Station’ at the back of the book, where you can colour your favourite author to get the creative juices flowing again!

I’ll definitely be using it these next few weeks.  Do you have any tried and tested methods when planning your novel?  I would love to hear about them.  Just comment below.