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40,000 words in: stuff I’ve learnt

January 27, 2012

OK folks, plotmash is now 40,000 words old (a little bit more in fact, but 40,000 is a nice round number).

As a recap, the plotmash project is all about trying to make writing a social experience. With few exceptions writing is regarded as a fairly solitary experience. Any of you that have tried your hand at it, or have read other people’s advice on it, will have noticed tips on coping with the loneliness of locking yourself away with just your imagination for company (putting it down like that it sounds positively dangerous!). Through engaging with readers from the very beginning plotmash hopes to make the writing process interactive, give readers a level of control and help them invest in the story. So far it’s worked, and there are some other things I’ve learned along the way. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) Discipline is very important.

This is a common one. If you want to write you have to do just that – write. It’s even more important when you have a regular deadline with your readers. But the truly great thing is that the regular deadline keeps you honest, it helps you keep to that discipline. It’s been great for me, meaning I stick to a regular writing schedule and a 7,000 word output each and every week.

2) Giving up on plotting is hard

Actually, I think it’s impossible. I keep forming lots of ideas about where the story is going, and no doubt I will weave these in. So much so it can be hard putting up a central plot item to the reader poll each week. But if I didn’t, what would be the point of the plotmash project?

3) First person prose presents different challenges

I wanted to do this book in the first person. My previous writing had all been third person narration, and I wanted to develop my style on this one. It’s fun, but it makes things like pacing more difficult (you can’t switch viewpoints and chop the story in sub-plots as easily), and I worry my character is getting boring. Is he? I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a book in second person (is that the right term, where everything is ‘you’?). Hmmm, sounds like it would be odd (but then this is the same person who wanted to write a novel entirely in text-speak…

4) Interaction is difficult

I think this is something I should have expected, but people don’t expect to interact with the author of the book they are reading (that is, if anyone is reading it of course). Reading, like watching a movie, naturally feels like a one-way passive activity. Plotmash relies on interaction, and with some the exception of some notable heros (you know who you are) it’s been difficult to get the interaction firing.

Anyway, more tidbits as things progress. And on that last one, if you are reading this hit me back with a comment – even a “s’up” – and get that interaction flowing 🙂



From → Random Musings

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