How to write a book? This seems to be the question I get most often when interviewed. It's also a hard question to answer, but I'm gonna be a big girl and try. First of all, I don't think any writer writes with the same method. Most of us are divided into plotters or pantsers. You know, meticilous plotting as against writing by the seat of your pants. I'm a combination of the two. I generally have the first two or three chapters in mind and get that set down pretty quickly. Then things get tough. I have to think of what else these two people are going to do. You and I both know they're going to end up in bed together, not just once but hopefully for life, but you can't make it too easy. They generally start out far apart and you have to get them together in spite of all the obstacles. And the more obstacles the better. You have to throw every roadblock you can think of directly in their reluctant paths, and then work them through it. Somehow.
I once asked Mary Balogh, one of my favorite writers, if she ever got stuck in the dreaded middle of the book. Usually I know the beginning and the ending, it's the middle that gives me fits. Her answer was simple..'make it worse'. That generally gets me over the hump and writing again. Although sometimes I make it so bad for my romantic pair I stay awake trying to figure out what the hell to do now.
I have a good friend who sends me quotes of the day from authors. She sent me one I've discovered is very true. Sometimes a character starts telling me what he's doing and practically walks up to me shaking his finger so I'll listen. When that happens I've learned to do what the bully says. Sometimes he tries to take over the book, and you have to listen.Here's a quote from William Faulkner. "It begins with character,usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along with a paper and a pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." That doesn't happen often to me, but when it does it's pure joy to know you've created a living character..
Another good quote, this one from Robert Frost. "no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." If I don't choke up ocassionally I know I haven't written the book I want. You've really got to feel what you're writing to make it come across. If your love scenes don't hot you up they simply aren't working.
And now one last quote, this one from Alexander Pope. "True ease in writing comes from art, not chance. As those move easier who have learned to dance." So the best thing is simply to write and write. Learn to dance. Even when you're in some kind of slump. Force yourself to write, and then throw it out if it's no good. At least you're writing.
What have I missed? Do comment and tell me your own thoughts on writing.