Sunday, 20 November 2011

21st November 2011 – Open and Closed Doors.

No, I’m not talking about how some publishing doors seem open to you, and some seem closed, which is probably the case for 99% of us. I’m talking about the actual crafting of the book, and the way an author should approach their work.

We all do it, the book starts off as a germ of an idea, a tiny seed gem that sparks out creative imagination and then germinates to produce a seedling. Form here we start to think about the book as a whole, maybe develop a formal synopsis, maybe just a rough story treatment or outline. At this point many of us will run said treatment past a very select group of trusted friends to see if the idea has wings.

Sorry, I’m mixing metaphors like crazy, but remember this is a creative process, so we’re allowed to describe it in those terms.

Then having been given a green light we develop a detailed plan for the book (how detailed is up to the particular author, as is how that plan is developed) and then finally we sit down with a blank piece of paper, or a blank screen, to produce the first draft. This is, finally, where the doors concept comes in.

Stephen King was the first author I found who propounded this way of working in his book “On Writing” and it’s probably the best single piece of writing advice I’ve read:

“Write your first draft with the door closed.”

In other words, shut the world out, keep your workroom door closed, (he even goes as far as to close the blinds too) and let no one or nothing interrupt the flow. He doesn’t mean start writing and drop dead from exhaustion halfway through. What he’s specifically talking about is don’t show the uncompleted manuscript to anyone, not even your agent, publisher, friend, spouse or publicist. The door is closed to them, and everyone else so you can concentrate clearly on your vision for the book.

Finally, when the first draft is complete, this is the time to think about opening the door, to a few select people (not necessarily the same group as earlier in the process) and take note of their comments and critique as you from your ideas for the second draft.

First draft, door closed, second draft, door open letting the world in.

It works for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment