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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Birth Of A Book, Part Five—Getting Down And Dirty...

By Antonio Litterio
...it's time to get creative. If you've been following the first four parts of this series, you'll have a stash of ideas, and you'll know the importance of detailed characters, and a strong basic structure. To catch up on any of the parts you may have missed, here are the links: From Thinking To WritingFinding The Heart And Soul Of Your BookFind Your Writing Style and The Basic Three Act Structure For Creative Writing.

All (!) you have to do now is put the advice into action, so sit down and write. Nobody can put those words together for you, and that's the beauty of it. Your work is as individual as you are. The problem is, those words and ideas are no use to you, or anyone else, while they're inside your head. To get them noticed, put them down on paper, or up on screen.

I'm a great believer in the dirty draft. Once you've worked out the who, what, when, where and why of your major characters, live with them for a while. Don't start writing until they stop being characters, and become real people for you. Then imagine you've opened a vein—let the words flow fast. The important thing at this stage is to get something down. Editing your written work is about a million times easier than staring at a blank screen (and ten million times more productive), so start and don't stop when you run out of words. Stop when you still feel you could write all night. Then your story will be so desperate to be told, it'll keep your imagination on high alert until your next writing session.

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Once you've typed The End, you reach the hardest part of being a writer (since the last hardest part, and until you come to the next hardest part). That's when you put your work away for a while. It must be out of sight, and out of mind. If it's on a computer, save it to a flash drive, and email it to yourself as well, as insurance. Then go and do something completely different from writing. Hike a long distance path. Join a gym. Go on holiday. Do anything but touch your finished dirty draft. This break gives you and your work a chance to mellow after the ferocity of the writing process. A cooling off period puts your work, like a teenage affair, into perspective. Leave it for at least a week, but preferably much longer. If you use the time to plan, and begin writing, your next book the time will go much faster. A head start on your follow-up project is important if you want to make wiring your career.

You'll be glad to know writers and their drafts have a much better chance of long-term success than playground partnerships. You can alter and improve your first love in written form to your heart's content—you can't do that with real people!

Next time, I'll be talking about the process of reviewing and editing your work. Do you revise and edit as you go, or do you use the dirty draft method outlined above? There's a signed copy of my current release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, for a comment drawn at random after 9th March.