Friday, February 25, 2005

Quality v Quantity

Although it's quality not quantity that's important, first drafts don't have to be perfect so it's OK to write them quicker. Quality comes with the rewrites. Up to today, I've written 4160 words of Fangtooth. Not bad (for me) in 3 days. Yesterday I realised that chapter 3 was going to be another one that needed information I didn't have to hand, so I've skipped it until later. I believe it's okay to skip chapters as long as you know that if something important is going to occur in said chapter that will reflect in another chapter, you make note of it. If you spent the time trying to find the information, you stop writing. I think it's better to keep writing. Unless vital to the story, any facts can be gleaned later.

With regard writing in general, if you're anything like me, you left school thinking you knew everything there was to know about stringing a few words together. How wrong I was. It's only in the last few years my shortcomings have been made evident. By reading books such as 'The Elements of Style' by William Strunk and E.B. White, and 'Self Editing for Fiction Writers' by Renni Browne and Dave King, I've learned a lot. I cannot recommend these books enough for anyone who wants to improve their writing. Like any other job, you only improve if you learn how to use the tools of the trade. In this case the tools are words. It's also useful to read a lot. See how other people construct a sentence. How they can make the words come alive, how they make a character or place seem real.

Other books I would recommend reading are: 'Writing Horror Fiction' by Guy N. Smith, 'Writing Horror' by Edo Van Belkom, 'The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel' by Tom Monteleone and 'On Writing' by Stephen King. If nothing else, it's good to see how other authors work.

4 comments:

Bart said...

Hi Shaun,

How's the book by Guy N. Smith? King's On Writing is ace, I know THAT much, but the one by Smith is nowhere to be found where I live.

Cheers,
Bart

Shaun said...

Hi Bart,

Guy N. Smith's book covers such things as characterization, plot, expanding an idea, short stories etc., and I found it very interesting to read, although it doesn't delve too much into each section to be considered overly helpful. It's not the best book on the art of writing horror fiction, but then there aren't that many to choose from (it's always available from the mouse to the house - Amazon) On another note, I just finished reading Richard Laymon's 'A Writer's Tale', and found it very intriguing to read his thoughts on books and writing. Also he detailed where most of the ideas behind the novels originated, which was interesting.

Bart said...

Thanks for the info, Shaun. I got to get myself "A Writer's Tale", I think.

Shaun said...

Expect to have to pay a lot if you find a copy. One copy on amazon at the moment is going for $350. There were only 500 signed/numbered editions, and 26 signed/lettered editions published.