Writing Books/From shorts to broads
Dear Lady Dorothy,
Thank you for your prompt answer. I'm not exactly structured myself either. I liked your answers, that's why I was hoping for some advice from you in particular. I like your "voice."
You probably know this, but I thought I'd fill you in on what I know. A short story is one idea or feeling that a writer would like to convey. It normally has uniformity of time, place, and theme (setting?). Normally, I start with a small scene and expound, or a feeling that I want to get my reader to feel, and grow from there. But I'm finding book format MUCH more difficult. A book has chapters, and sub-plots, and quite a few more characters... Not the kind of thing I can juggle in one small sitting. There's too many pages and too many people for uniformity of anything. Ideas aren't seperated by just paragraphs, they're seperated by whole chapters. I feel like a pottery maker trying to paint.
I tried writing a series of shorts about the plot and stringing them together to create chapters, but it's really not working for me.
You seem like you've written in both formats. I was hoping you'd have some useful advice on how to bridge the gaps. I think if I try to think about what's missing much more, I might think myself out of thinking at all.
I have never written a short story. Seems to me that you are making this much more difficult than it has to be. SO much thinking and planning and structuring. Here is how I write:
I have to begin with an idea or a question. I have to have an era, a place, and a setting. Then I sit down at the computer and I type a sentence. Any sentence ... whatever comes to mind. And I type another. Perhaps these two sentences are not very good, but I continue typing. This exercise releases my creative mind and gets me out of the thinking and "editing" mind or into the right brain and out of the left. My characters come as they are needed. They simply show up and they tell me who they are and what part they are to play. I allow them to help me write the story. A chapter begins and it ends. Another comes. And here is the most important thing I do. I do not edit, correct, re-write, polish, or even consider doing these things until I have a complete, rough draft of my entire novel. The only thing I do is this: sometimes I feel the story going astray and I try to get back on track. Sometimes the going astray is where the story really needs to go and I go with it. It becomes a matter of "feel". Often I do not know what scene will be next or how the plot will develop or how the book will end until I get there or almost there. I have to trust my creative mind to lead me. It has never failed me. I also never allow anyone to read the story or any part of it until I have completed at least two rewrites.
Now to the rewrite process. This is where I restructure, cut and paste, delete, add, work for continuity, clarity and correctness. I do as many as 8 or 10 rewrites before I am totally satisfied that I have made it as balanced as possible. Possibly you will not have to do as many.
If this sounds possible to you, I suggest you try this and see how you go. This may work for you as it does for me, or it may not. You may need to do the structured procedure. (I never use outline and could not if I wanted to.)
Keep me posted and let me know if you are making progress.
p.s. My third novel will be out this summer.