thoughts on...thinking

My friend Beth asked me about my thoughts on thinking for writing. I only know one thing for certain: I don't do enough of it. I also know it takes me a lot of thought to come up with the simple, elegant premise that makes books sing. That's the foundation, and I've learned either I can't discover it purely through writing or I don't have the patience or drive to revise and rewrite the mess to uncover the simple premise. I have to start with it. That's a change from my earlier years of writing.

For me at least, writing is taking more and more thought. One reason is because I refuse, yet again, to revise a book 700 times only to have it turned down because the premise is wrong. I used to leap in without much of a premise because I didn't put enough thought into it.

I'm also trying to know myself better than before. When I first started writing again, 7 years ago, I was smack dab in a mid-life crisis. My book had all the elements too, the characters were everything I wasn't: Tall, strong, bright, young, immortal... The one thing they had in common with me were parent issues, and that's all I'll say on that.

I wrote and wrote and wrote, literally hundreds of thousands of words. But what I didn't do was think.

Now I spend an inordinate amount of time staring out my office doors at my yard, not really seeing anything, but thinking. I search for the elegant, simple premise. ( I have two projects I'm doing that with now, hope to start them in the fall.)  My thinking consists of trying to tie all the unconnected elements together.  There's always a link, and that's my premise. I used to do that by writing. Now I do it by thinking.

For instance, QUENCHED launched with the idea of writing more of a horror/thriller vampire story. We knew that much.

Books I've read lately with simple, elegant premises:

In the DOWNSIDE books by Stacia Kane, Chess is a drug addict. She has a string to pull and boy do people pull it.

In SANDMAN SLIM, Stark is a magician who was imprisoned in hell. When he escapes the only thing on his mind is revenge against the people who sent him there. There's a singular, elegant, violent focus to the book despite the heavy world building and large cast of characters.

In ABANDON, gold is at the root of all evil, and a lot of evil ensues, in two different time-lines.

In SCAR, they're fighting over a new holy land that turns every single religion on its ear.

Don't get me wrong. There's a lot else going on with SCAR, and the title says it all (I've even toyed with calling it just "SCAR").  There's a lot else going on with all these stories. But there is the one premise the characters keep returning to. Every page has a mention of it.

And I can only do it with a great deal of thought and some forward plotting.  I admire writers who can pantz it. I admire my best friends (coughcoughStuartcough) whose frickin' award-winning novels come at them from a dream.

But it's not me. It's not how I operate. Dunno if I'm dumber than your average writer (or a post or a bag of rocks), but I have to think a lot before and during writing. I try not to think too much after, though, cuz that just makes me feel like I missed something. :)

And then there's the whole logic piece, which I'm short on and takes me even more thought to sort out. Can't even go there today.

Ahem, er, thoughts? How much thinking do you do?


Natasha Fondren said...

I do a ton of thinking. And I write in my head, which is sort of frustrating because I can't seem to get it on paper. (I even think in dialogue tags.)

Yesterday, I wrote for maybe an hour. The rest of the day, I flitted in between imagining and sleeping (and fever), and I must have spent six hours imagining my story. I only use a tiny bit of all I think.

I'm the opposite of you: I "grew up" getting paid by the word, and so I used to delete only little, and avoid writing scenes I'd scrap. Now I don't care. I just write it, and if I can't use it, I delete it. Neither way (waiting or deleting) is particularly pleasant, LOL.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I agree. This whole gig isn't particularly pleasant. :D

Yeah, I don't write by the word and I tend to write many fewer words than I used to.

siebendach said...

I think way too much.

At least, I think I do.

writtenwyrdd said...

Excellent thoughts. Thinking about what you want is so useful. For me, though, I often start from my gut, with a word, a sentence, an idea that's so amorphous I have to write until it takes some semblance of form. And I may still not be able to figure out what I'm doing until I write a bunch. But I try not to go too far before I see the shape and try and decide where I'm going with it, what I'm trying to say. (Not that I'm too great at that part yet.)