Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How To Write and Then Some

Some writers outline their books using index cards or Excel; they jot notes about every scene. In other words, they’re plotting their books scene by scene. I don’t know if they do the entire book all at once or if they go as far as they can before they stop to write to the end of their list of scenes.  When they feel the need, I guess, they start with the scene by scene outline again. Seems like an incredible amount of detail work to me, but I can see where it would be effective. Basically, who, what, when, and where are addressed in each scene. Actually, this method of outlining makes writing a novel seem pretty easy, doesn’t it?

There are so many ways to plot and write a book. The fine-tuning and layering is a whole other matter. Don’t even get me started on subtexting. There are so many things we need to know and learn and do before, during and after we have a finished product.
My question is: do you think a writer can “over-educate” himself to the point any natural talent he has might be warped or distorted by all the rules/how-to/book learning? Does this question even make sense?

My answer to my question is: I suppose we should read, write, study until everything we need to know is second nature when we write.
Yes, I often talk to myself.  
What are your thoughts?


Charles Gramlich said...

I think it can happen. I've heard of quite a few folks who went for their MFA in creative writing and came out not writing at all. They were so educated in a way that they just blocked on everything. I've known a couple of MFA's like that myself.

Lucy Merrill said...

You absolutely can paralyze yourself with all the methodology. You have to know your stuff, but there's a point where you have to go with your gut. The same thing is true of writing to the market. You can lose yourself.

Jess said...

Charles, to come away with a MFA but be totally blocked would be scary and depressing!

Lucy, I agree with you. I just can't distinquish between my gut and my rebellion/hard-headedness. I have been paralyzed by the market. Have to totally get away from it by concentrating on writing short things for awhile.

Stargazer said...

Now I know why I can't write books. Articles and short stories seem to be my forte. Don't think I'm over-educated, although I've certainly read enough on writing to qualify.

My main problem, I think, is disorganization and the older I get, the worse it gets.

BTW, can we sign up on line for your workshop? Go to McNeese Cont. Ed.com? Thanks.