Tuesday, August 09, 2011

How to Write a Book in Three Days

Michael Moorcock, legendary fantasy writer, came up with a formula to write a book in three days, and this article at Wet Asphalt.com provides some of the details. Check it out right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

Notebook collection
Courtesy of Dvortygirl via Flickr
What does this tell you about writing? Regardless of how you feel about the writing process, whether it is art and should not be subjected to a rigid formula, or it is a carefully scripted process, this article states something important.

Preparation is the key. There needs to be organization in order for creativity to flourish. And if you are having trouble getting started, why not try a formula?

There is this myth that you can create fully formed original stories using some sort of mythical creative power. The truth: There are no new stories just creative twists on the old ones, and hopefully creative enough to keep things interesting.

Here are some of Moorcock's tips that I like:
  • Create a hero that a reader can relate with, and have them drawn into a conflict unwillingly because something happens that makes the conflict personal.
  • The hero needs an object of some sort in order to resolve the conflict, but many parties are also trying to get that object. Competing parties creates conflict for the hero. This desired object gives the hero a goal, and if you add a critical time limit for achieving that goal, it creates pressure to keep the story moving forward.
  • Take a total word count, in this case 60,000 words, and divide it into sections, such as four sections of 15,000 words each. Establish a general goal for each 15,000 word section then divide each section into six chapters. Then make sure that each chapter has action that moves your hero toward reaching his immediate goal.
  • Moorcock also generated a list of images, in his case fantastic images, that he could slide into the story when needed in order to create an obstacle, or to establish the atmosphere of the story. He often took an ordinary object he saw in the room and gave it a creative twist to create a desired effect in the story.
Sometimes seeing how something is done is just as helpful as doing it. It is OK to know exactly what you want to have happen next. It’s OK to know how everything ends. Having a plan gets you moving and helps you see where to go next when you get stuck. Having a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. You can change it as you write the story to react to creative impulses or what makes more sense to you during the writing process. A plan is a guideline, not something that is written in stone.

Do you have a formula for writing? How does it work for you? Do you find yourself always sticking to the plan? Or does it change as you write? Comment below. Let’s discuss.

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