I was working on the new novel
[RUFUS – coming up on 29,000 words as of this morning, just entered act 2]
this morning and had a total falling-through-the-page session.
I was lost in the conversation between Rufus and Mac, where much of what’s been confusing Rufus in act 1 is made clear. What fun; writing as fluidity, and finally releasing the pressure I’d been building up for over 200 pages
[of my draft, at least]
Anyone who writes, whether fiction or otherwise, has experienced this level of flow, or at least I hope so
[and, if not, have you considered Writers Unblocked?]
When I was writing Escalation, I adopted for the first time a practice of limiting my writing on the book to a daily quota – in productivity terms, it worked very well, with the first draft being written in a little over four months. In sanity terms, it worked exceptionally well, no block, no doubt, just the sheer joy of the writing.
My current practice is to write one word and then the next, with a commitment to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day.
Now, that may not sound like much, but if I were a machine, it would bring one of my novels from idea to finished draft in around 3 months; more than acceptable!
If I go over the 1,000, I don’t beat myself up, but I have developed a near muscle-memory ability to notice this and wind down soon thereafter – It leaves me fulfilled but not burnt out, so maybe its a simple protective mechanism?
Today, when I finished writing my quota, I was reflecting on how the writing feels; that time-line of 3 months for a book, and how for a screen-play my expectations would be totally different. Not only is the type of writing different – in my view, novels encompass past, present, future and alternate universes in time and space, while screenplays may draw upon those factors but stay so very present-tense in the writing – but I also think the process is fundamentally different.
You see, my expectation and experience of screen-writing, tell me that the first draft is done QUICKLY – I’m talking a matter of days, if not hours. Very, very different from my novels. But where my books come out at least 90% of where they end up after review and editing
[and, in Escalation’s case, it was >98% done on that first draft]
I know that screenplays take multiple, multiple re-drafts.
The closest metaphor I’ve got for myself is that writing novels is like planting, nurturing and growing a garden – it becomes what it will be under these typing green fingers. A screenplay, though, is like bonsai – a first crude cut that kind-of-sort-of has the potential to be the perfect shape of something much larger than itself – the bonsai artist works in minute detail on the specific, with an eye to its relation to the whole.
That’s what screen-writing is for me, bonsai – which is why my experience of writing the two different formats is so different experientially. I rarely fall through the page while working on screenplays, though there are moments of joy when a page of dialogue suddenly contracts to one sentence, or a look from one character, or a symbolic image, which is as perfect as a tiny, clipped branch. Those moments can be very satisfying, though there is much work and focus to get them.
Do I prefer either format? I don’t think so, not really. So long as the story is compulsive enough, and fits the format I’m in, I’m a happy boy.
Right now, RUFUS is moving forward, and our itinerant songster with an unexpected mission to fulfill is happy to let me walk his path.
And, as ever, that’s good enough for me!