Well, this is just insane. Whatever else happens today (unless it’s earth shakingly momentous) I hope to write SOMEthing. A character with a problem in a setting. That’s all I need.
I hope it whatever I write will lead to a novel. I really enjoy writing novels. And when I’m involved with the characters in a novel, my daily word count soars.
* * *
And just like that (snaps fingers), things change. Epiphanies happen. Calming comes. And clarity.
I wrote the first two paragraphs above just before I ventured to Dean’s site to check for a new post. Not finding one (at the time) I checked for comments on yesterday’s post. I’m glad I did. In fact I’m thrilled I did.
I found the most important gold mine of advice I’ve ever seen or can imagine in those comments in the form of a link to an article by Frederic van Rensselaer Dey. The superlative is intentional and I am not exaggerating in the slightest.
Although I’ve included a link to it in “Of Interest” below (just in case anyone skips this part to read that part) I also decided to make it the topic of the day.
This is the most important topic I’ve written and posted in this or any other blog. It probably is the most important topic I’ll ever post.
Topic: Writers and Learning
Despite the inadequate title of this topic, Frederick van Rensselaer Dey’s article “How I Wrote a Thousand ‘Nick Carter’ Novels” is a gold mine of knowledge not only in writing, but in any endeavor and in life itself.
Again, I’m not exaggerating.
Moreover, the article begs the reader to also read Dey’s short story, “The Magic Story.”
This is so important, I’ve copy/pasted “The Magic Story” into a Word document, converted it to PDF, and made it accessible via a link on my Free Stuff page. I did the same with the article. And I might even create a new page (or two new pages) on my website specifically to showcase the story and the article.
They are that important. But to the topic….
I’ve always said continual learning is essential to success in writing. That entails taking classes, reading blog posts and, of course, practicing. (By the latter, I mean
1. learn (conscious mind) something new about the craft in between writing projects, and
2. apply (creative mind) the new thought or technique in your next writing project.
I have known many writers and would-be writers during my life. In EVERY CASE, those who succeeded were not the ones with the best language skills or sense of syntax, etc.
The ones who succeeded (by which I mean continued to write and improve in the craft) were the ones who were willing to put forth the effort to learn new things.
But my take on learning to write has always been limited. “Learn the rules of grammar,” I would say, and “Learn how readers react, in every case, to punctuation” and “Take every opportunity to learn everything you can about crafting a story.”
I always advocate, still, learning the “rules,” but only so you can break them, when necessary, intelligently and intentionally to create a certain effect on the page and a certain reaction in the reader.
Those saws still comprise good advice and I stand by them.
But in reading Dey’s article, and as illustrated in his story[ies], I found that I had omitted perhaps the most important advice of all.
I almost slipped and gave you the answer. But I won’t because I don’t want that to derail you from reading the article for yourself.
Still, I want to make finding those articles as easy for you as I can. So here are the links:
Frederick van Rensselaer Dey’s article “How I Wrote a Thousand ‘Nick Carter’ Novels” (http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/How-I-Wrote-A-Thousand.pdf).
(If you’d like to see the original article, you can find it at https://ipeopleblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/writer-frederic-van-rensselaer-dey/.)
Frederick van Rensselaer Dey’s story “The Magic Story” (http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/The-Magic-Story.pdf)
I’ve read both. I read the short story first (yesterday) and was completely awed at how the writer and the writing pulled me along.
I read the article this morning just before I began this topic. I intend to read it several more times, especially at those times when I feel the writing has fled me. But at other times too. When I can’t come up with a story idea. Or when my consious mind tries to intrude to question something my subconscious wants to put on the page. (Therein lies the personal reason to post both it and the story to my site.)
As an additional incentive, I’ll just say that Dean plans to post topics based on the article over a period of time. So if you read it now (and perhaps again later), you’ll have a solid foundation for reading Dean’s take on it later.
For my own edification, I’m also going to find every book and story I can find by Dey or his pseudonyms (the folks at the original link above included some of them) and read those as well. Voraciously.
So I wrote all of the above to lead to this:
Go. Read. Seriously.
Some interesting comments on Dean’s 1/1/17 Daily… Some Learning… (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/1117-daily-some-learning/#comments)
Also, Frederic van Rensselaer Dey (same article I mentioned above) in his own words at https://ipeopleblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/writer-frederic-van-rensselaer-dey/ (from the February 1920 issue of The American Magazine). This is invaluable, even when preaching to the choir.
And finally, Dean’s 1/2/17 Daily… Adjusting Slightly (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/1217-daily-adjusting-slightly/) is good.
Today, and Writing
Rolled out right at 3, starting to get back to my earlier “normal” time. This is part of that retraining I mentioned.
About a month ago, I started training myself to go to bed later and get up closer to a normal time. But with the recent changes in my family, I realized if I’m to meet my writing goals, I need to go back in the other direction, so I’m working on that now.
I messed around the first hour or so, then checked Dean’s site and wrote everything above this. I also added some things to my website (see above) and did some other stuff. It’s just after 9 now and I’m going to read Dey’s article again. There are some things there I want to revisit.
And now it’s almost 11:30. Some things came up, so I dealt with those and read the article again in about four separate sittings. Got what I needed though. And I’ll read it again as necessary.
At this point I might or might not write. I’m kind of casting about for characters. I’ve had a few strong “friends” I like a lot. I’m going to visit with them a bit and see whether any of them want to join me in another novel or twelve.
Definitely not writing fiction today. The rest of today I’m going to explore a few characters from an earlier novel. One of those characters is well-established. A second had more than an introduction, but not a lot more. Two others are incredibly interesting but served only cardboard, background roles in the first novel. I wanted to write more in that world anyway, and this seems the perfect time.
I started that process today. I’ll continue it in the morning, probably around 2 or 3. Then, situation allowing, I’ll write the rest of the day. The way I see it, I have some catching up to do. (grin)
See you tomorrow.
Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1240 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 1240
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the month……… 1628
Total fiction words for the year………… 1628
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2860
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 2860
Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 4488