Saturday, January 13, 2007

Resolute about Resoltions

Another Friday, another batch of snow. Just got in from cleaning up the yard for a fourth consecutive Saturday. Can I tell you how sick of winter I am? Fortunately we managed to avoid any real accumulation (maybe half an inch), but it is absolutely wicked cold here. How cold? At the time of this writing (2:13pm MST) my online weather gauge says ZERO. Minus 10 with the wind chill factored in. Yet it's clear blue skies. Gotta love Colorado!

So how is everyone making out with their New Year's Resolutions so far?

Me? Ideal. In fact, I haven't felt this good about writing in a very, very long time. A few weeks back I decided to make a concerted effort to get my never ending novel written - this year. Crap or get off the pot as they say. And so I am. I've called myself a writer over the years, but given some of the people I know who actually ARE writers - meh.

I told Fran the other day that for the first time I actually feel like one. I've read numerous books on how to write (Stephen King's On Writing being one of the best), subscribe to The Writer Magazine, and been instructed via some of the rather harsh (some would say Hitler-esque) rules and regs that have been dropped on us since GameDaily was bought out... but something finally clicked. A lot of it actually did in fact have to do with AOL's new writing policies, as they have made me a better writer. But recently I stumbled across a tidbit of info, one I've come across before, that finally made sense. And it came from a very unlikely source.

I get a lot of magazines, most dealing with sports, books, and video games. A few weeks ago I got the January edition of game developer. As I was browsing through it I came upon an article about game design by Noah Falstein entitled, "Do, Don't Show." The first sentence of the article says: "If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you've probably heard the maxim, 'Show, don't tell.' It's intended to advise budding writers to show their characters experiencing events instead of just describing those events to the reader."

I've never actually taken a creative writing class, but I have heard that "maxim" before - or rather, something similar. It's not unlike writing in the active voice instead of passive voice. AOL has been trying to drill this into us forever, and for some ungodly reason I was simply not getting it. But what really brought it all home was the quote from a very famous author - Mark Twain. "Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream."

As a famous chef would say, "BAM!"

During my "studies" I've read how, when author's are in the flow, the story actually writes itself. One of my biggest hangups was my inability to let things flow. That, and my insatiable curse to to re-edit what I had just written. I couldn't just write, leave it be, and come back to it in the next draft like you're supposed to. But for whatever reason, in this year of 2007 when I'll hit the Big Four Oh, I finally understand how a story can write itself. Over the last 2 weeks I have written more then I have in the last 2 years. Although I know where I'm going, i have no idea how I'm getting there.

Think of it terms of getting from Point A to Point B. You know you have to get there, but HOW are you going to do that? When I sit down to write I have no idea what the characters are doing to do, or where they're going to take me. It's like I'm reading a book as well as writing it at the same time! And it's that curiosity, that "I need to know what happens next" - that now keeps me writing.

After all these years... I finally tracked The Muse down. That bitch. And I ain't lettin' her go. Maybe all those years as a Private Investigator have finally paid off.

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