Inside this writer’s head
Cross-posted from kelleyeskridge.com
I’m halfway through the Clarion West Write-a-thon and having a great time working on screenplays and thinking about a special project…and telling my sponsors all about my process, technique, thinking and feeling in weekly letters. Nearly 8,000 words so far, with many more to come.
Here’s a taste:
From A Writer’s Journey, Letter #1:
It’s not enough to just write every day. Writers have to think as well as write.
You might be surprised how many writers do not like thinking. How many writers want creation to be some kind of spontaneous magic. I was one of those writers for longer than I care to admit, and it brought me nothing but heartache and insecurity. I wish I had learned sooner to embrace one of the essential tensions of writing: it requires both unconscious and conscious work; both magic and clear, cold decision-making. Anyone who is unwilling to make their storytelling process conscious will never be a consistently good writer. Ever. I absolutely believe this to be true, and I should know: I spent years wondering why I couldn’t be consistently good before I finally sucked it up and started analyzing – and altering – my own process.
From A Writer’s Journey, Letter #2:
Ideally, I should accomplish this sequence in about 11-15 pages. Currently I’m at page 31 or so.
That sound you just heard? That was the producer’s head exploding ☺.
The thing is, this is a normal part of my process. I have a basic plan, and as I begin to write to it, I also begin to make deeper discoveries about the characters and their relationships. I am willing to follow my nose down some of those trails to see where they lead, and that means I write long. I write to explore, and I write to discover; but I also discipline myself to write within the basic beats that I have already established so that I can actually achieve some results. If I envision a story about star-crossed lovers in Chicago and then set all my scenes on the moon instead… well, that’s counterproductive.
From A Writer’s Journey, Letter #3:
Let’s talk about “on the nose.” Remember The Sting, when the con men would signal each other by touching their nose? It was how they signaled that something important was happening. It’s also a phrase we use in English to mean exactly or precisely. In writing, it means that there is basically no subtext: the characters tell each other exactly and precisely what they are feeling in dialogue, or the writer tells the reader in exposition (which is like being hit on the nose with a hammer).
What I did was a subtle kind of on the nose. By making Rae’s every response driven by her baggage, I hammer home to the reader Look, she’s acting just like a person with baggage, she must have some! Oh look, she’s acting like that again! I think we’ve got some baggage here… It’s not that she says her subtext out loud: she does it out loud all the time, if that makes sense. She is Clearly Troubled. She may as well be wearing a badge.
I’m doing my best to give my sponsors a peek behind the curtain, because my sponsors rock. They are helping to ensure the stability and sustainability of Clarion West, and they have become part of my Layla’s. You can be a part of it too, and spend some time inside my writer’s head. Sponsor me with a donation to Clarion West, and I will send you a full set of past letters, and all letters to come. There is no minimum donation: every dollar helps Clarion West change writers’ lives, and we are grateful for them all.
Thanks for considering it.
Enjoy your day. Write something wonderful!
Posted by: Kelley